Information about arrangements with third parties for one-off or recurring hall hires, residential leases and licenses to occupy premises for organisations such as scouts and nurseries can be found in the following paragraphs. All statutory Health and Safety tasks must be observed for the safety of all occupants or users. The building must be fit for the use intended and safe in the event of fire and other hazards. Gas, electricity and water and their relevant appliances are covered by health and safety regulations. The property team can support with these checks. It is important to go through fire procedures, location of first aid equipment, instructions to complete the accident book if there is an incident and which entrances/exits to use when allowing third parties to use our premises. We prohibit hirers from bringing naked flames onto the premises (small birthday cake candles are allowed) or using bouncy castles.
The Parish Hall Hiring Agreement is designed for one-off lets, for example, for parties or for a one month language school. Parish Priests may sign the agreement with the hirer. For regular lettings see leases/licences above.
Hiring out the parish hall can generate some income as a contribution towards its upkeep. But a parish hall generally does not produce sufficient income to cover its full running costs. The management of lettings needs careful consideration. In particular, the cleaning of the floors, toilet facilities and kitchen needs planning between lets. Lettings must not be for purposes contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church nor which could cause offence.
A commercial hirer must hold public indemnity insurance with a minimum limit of indemnity of £5 million and proof should be given to the parish before any agreement is signed. Hirers may hold private parties but must not hold public entertainments.
Hirers should undertake their own risk assessments for general usage and fire.
Hirers for children's groups must have their own child protection procedures and will be expected to follow these. They should be asked to attach a copy of their own procedures to the agreement and by signing the agreement affirm that these will be adhered to at all times. Any group wishing to make use of parish accommodation and facilities that do not have their own procedures should be referred to email@example.com to receive the relevant policies.
The hirer will sign an affirmation undertaking to follow these procedures in relation to all their work with children and young people, preventing child abuse and responding to child protection concerns.
A standard Parish Hall Hiring Agreement is available below. A separate information sheet should be drawn up giving the hire rates for the different parts of the building. The best way to assess rates is by comparing them with other halls in the vicinity.
When the arrangement is ongoing a Licence Agreement should be used.
A Licence or Lease Agreement is used when the arrangement is ongoing or relates to the entire building. Leases are drawn up by the Diocesan solicitors. The Lease/Licence Heads of Terms form is required: this is also used for licenses with nurseries/preschools and scouts.
A number of residential properties in the Diocese are been made available to tenants using an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This requires a legal agreement drawn up by the Diocesan solicitor. As it is a disposition of land and the trustees have to comply with the requirements of the Charities Act 2011. When a tenant is found, the trustees have to receive a report from a "competent" person or a chartered valuation surveyor on the proposed tenancy. A "competent" person is someone with knowledge of the rental market such as an estate agent, letting agent or bank manager. The rent must be the best obtainable. Then the Diocesan solicitor will draw up the legal documents. The tenancy agreement must be signed by the tenant(s) before occupying the property. Tenants must not be allowed into the property before signing the documents.
The Diocesan solicitor will draw up a tenancy agreement based on the information supplied by the parish in the pro forma Assured Shorthold Tenancy Information Form. We recommend using the minimum tenancy period of six months, and then to allow the tenancy to run on beyond that on a month by month basis as a "periodic" tenancy.
This has the advantage that the tenancy can be drawn to an end by the landlord giving two months' notice of termination. The earliest that notice may be given is at four months' in order to give the minimum six month period. The tenant can give one month's notice.
Although a tenancy is allowed to run on, rent should be reviewed annually on the anniversary date. If an increase is required, the Diocesan Finance Office can issue a standard letter to the tenant(s) giving the new details. There is no need for a new agreement.
The parish should contact the property team at least four weeks before tenants are due to move in to allow time to complete all the necessary documents and distribute them to the appropriate parties.
The Diocese usually recommends the use of a letting agent for residential lettings. The agent acts as intermediary between the parish and tenant and this helps reduce any personal involvement or difficulties with the tenant. However, the agents must use the agreement drawn up by the Diocesan solicitors. Deposits have to lodged with a Government approved deposit agency. The letting agents will arrange this.
All parish land and buildings are vested in the Diocesan trust. The trustees make the ultimate decision whether to buy or sell land. In all instances, the Diocesan Finance Office must be involved from the earliest stages. The disposal of land requires a surveyors report to the trustees as set out in the Charities Act 2011 Section 119 and its Qualified Surveyors Report Regulations 1992. The property team will recommend a professional to provide this report.
All professionals, in particular the valuation surveyor, solicitors, and architects, if appropriate, will be Diocesan appointments but their fees are paid by the parish. This ensures a consistency in provision of advice. Instructions to these professionals is always through the Diocesan property team. Obviously, the parish will have a considerable involvement in buying or selling land. The parish priest will need to consult with his Parish Finance Committee, and depending on the land under consideration, the parish community may also need to be consulted.
As property owners we must be vigilant against all forms of encroachment on to our land or buildings to prevent losing ownership through adverse possession. Neighbours might move boundary structures or construct an access to use our property for, inter alia, cultivation, animal husbandry, leisure amenity, development etc. Vehicles could be parked without permission in car parks or church grounds; but if appropriate a licence could be agreed to regulate car parking for a rent. Travellers in illegal occupation have to be evicted with the inevitable litigation costs. In a similar way we must take care not to permit any form of pedestrian or vehicular traffic route to be created across our property.
Boundary structures must be kept in good repair but the owner with responsibility is not always obvious. It is good practice to periodically “beat the bounds” of all parish properties noting any incursions on to our land or damage to the boundaries. If you have any concerns that part of the parish estate has been encroached upon, please contact our Chief Operating Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org.