Guidelines for occupants of diocesan properties

 

Introduction

The following information is intended to inform and assist clergy and lay people living in parsonages and other properties in the Diocese of Leeds.

On 20 April 2014 the Diocese of Leeds was created and the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield abolished.

This document is not intended to be comprehensive as the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) is continually reviewing policy, and individual situations may sometimes require special consideration, particularly during this period of transition.

The stewardship of housing is a partnership between the occupant, the DBF and the Parish.  The staff members at the Diocesan offices are always happy to answer questions about the care and upkeep of these properties, and are eager to be helpful.  Please feel free to contact the Property Team at:

 

Episcopal Area Contact Telephone Email
General Property Enquiries Property Team 0113 353 0196 property [at] leeds.anglican.org
All Areas John Knox – Head of Change & Property 0113 3530 213 john.knox [at] leeds.anglican.org
Bradford Jon Conway - Property Manager 0113 3530 208 jon.conway [at] leeds.anglican.org
  Paulina Trimble – Property Administrator 0113 353 0212 paulina.trimble [at] leeds.anglican.org
Huddersfield Jon Conway - Property Manager  0113 3530 208 jon.conway [at] leeds.anglican.org
  Catherine Youngson – Property Administrator 0113 353 0215 catherine.youngson [at] leeds.anglican.org
Leeds and Wakefield June Mather – Property Manager 0113 353 0207 june.mather [at] leeds.anglican.org
  Claire Hanson – Property Administrator 0113 353 0215 claire.hanson [at] leeds.anglican.org
Ripon Emma Parsons – Property Manager 0113 353 0210 emma.parsons [at] leeds.anglican.org
  Paulina Trimble – Property Administrator 0113 353 0212 paulina.trimble [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Preamble

This section of the document sets out the terms on which, subject to the general provisions of the law, you will occupy your home, whether freehold or a license agreement. The remainder of these guidelines are written to help you understand the context and framework within which these rights and the diocesan policy and objectives are framed.

 

Your Rights & Duties

If you have the freehold or are under Common Tenure you have certain rights and duties in respect of the parsonage house and the land on which it stands.  Some of these for example are set out in the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972 which includes the following general statement:  ‘The incumbent shall have a duty to take proper care of a parsonage house, being a duty equivalent to that of a tenant to use premises in a tenant-like manner.

 

If you hold a  License  then your rights of occupancy will be framed within the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985.

 

Diocesan Policy and Objectives

The diocesan policy in relation to parsonage houses and other houses (“Property”) is set out in detail in this document.

 

The diocesan property team (“Property Team”) based at the three Offices is ready to help with any queries that you may have about your Property.  During your occupancy, the team will be responsible for ensuring that the Property is wind and water tight, and for the state of the essential services – water, power, drainage, sewage, and heating.  The team may also be responsible for any trees in the garden although this may depend on the size and type.

 

Your Obligations

Your obligations as occupant include the following:

  • To inform the Property Team if there is any damage or defect requiring the team’s attention.
  • To be responsible for fruit trees, shrubs etc in the garden.
  • To keep the garden in reasonably good order, and not allow rubbish etc to collect in the grounds.
  • Not to make or allow any alterations to the property which have not been authorized by the Property Team, including modifications to the essential service installations.
  • To consult the Diocesan Secretary if you intend to take in a lodger who is not a member of your immediate family.
  • To vacate the property on leaving office and leave it in a clean and tidy state.  (Please note that  the DBF has the right to recover from you the cost of repairing any damage caused during your occupancy and cleaning the property.)
  • Please contact members of the Property Team or your Archdeacon if you have any queries or encounter any difficulties at any time.  We want to do all that we can to enable you to be comfortable and feel secure in your new home.

 

Administration

The Property Portfolio

The Diocese of Leeds is a large diocese covering an area of 2,425 square miles. There are 471 parishes which are organised into five archdeaconries.  There are around 500 houses that the DBF is responsible for.

The Diocesan Estates also include a large property portfolio in the form of glebe land. 

The DBF, through its officers, is committed to enhancing the service it offers to those who live in its properties and to the custodianship and husbandry of its property and land assets. 

 

The Diocesan Board of Finance

The DBF is responsible during the transition period for property matters with the following objectives:

To ensure that property is used and managed effectively as a support to the mission and ministry of the Church.

To provide houses which are of a satisfactory standard, and which are maintained and, where necessary, improved in a manner that is timely and consistent with good value for money.

To recognise the impact on diocesan clergy, their families and other occupants of timely maintenance and repair as part of the pastoral care offered by the Diocese.

 

The Archdeacons

The Archdeacons have an important role in ensuring that the housing stock is fit for purpose.  Primarily this is achieved through effective liaison with occupants, all interested parties in the parishes and the Property Team.  Each Archdeacon meets regularly with the Property Teams to ensure that matters are being addressed particularly during the appointment process as vacancies arise.

Note:  Glebe properties and other clergy housing not in use for ministry are administered by the Property Teams.  Where parsonages and Assistant Ministers’ houses are let out on a temporary basis during vacancies the Archdeacons are, of course, more directly involved.

 

Financial Framework

Budget

The DBF is committed to providing realistic budgets for the maintenance and improvement of the property portfolio.  The source of this income is through the parish share. 

Works are carried out within three headings:

  • Improvements:  Works of maintenance and repair that include ‘improvement value’ for occupants.  (i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, internal decorations, new central heating systems, double glazing, insulation etc.)
  • Cyclical Maintenance:  Planned maintenance works running on short defined cycles to meet requirements of legislation or definable maintenance cycles. (External Decorations – 5 yearly; Electrical Periodic Tests – 10 yearly; Electrical Visual Inspections & Gas safety checks – at changes of occupancy; and, Landlord’s Certificates & servicing of boilers & heating appliances – annually.)  Generally these cycles are driven by legislation.

Reactive Repairs        

  • Inspection Repairs: Works of reactive repairs identified at the time of the Quinquennial Inspection or other visits carried out by the surveyors.  (Generally minor repair need.)
  • Other Reactive Repairs:  Unforeseen reactive repairs to breakdown identified by occupants.

The nature of reactive work should generally be minor and may involve an element of a ‘holding repair’ until major maintenance can be programmed. 

Contractors

When contractors are working under the supervision of the Diocesan Surveyor, or some other appointed architect, surveyor, engineer or other individual; clergy, members of their families, and PCC officers, should normally address concerns about the work being undertaken, preferably in writing, via the Property Team to the DBF.  There may be exceptional circumstances where direct contact is necessary between the occupant of the property and the contractor to avoid a crisis situation.

Council Tax

Normally Council Tax in respect of the occupation of the Parsonage House is paid directly through the Diocesan Budget.  Clergy and PCCs should refer correspondence regarding Council Tax to the Diocesan Office.  Council Tax is not paid when a house is temporarily unoccupied pending reoccupation by a Minister of Religion.  Moving in and moving out dates must be communicated to the Property Team so that the appropriate reimbursements are claimed. 

When houses are let, tenants become responsible for Council Tax.

The Diocese is also able to claim a Council Tax rebate for Single Occupancy.  Where occupants live alone, or circumstances change this must be communicated to the Property Team otherwise the Diocese will be in breach of the law.  Where appropriate such matters are dealt with in absolute confidentiality.

Damage

The DBF will adopt a pro-active approach in recovering the cost of damage caused during an occupation of a Parsonage.  The provisions of section 13(4) of the Benefice Buildings Measure 1972 will apply with regard to the occupier paying for repairs resulting from a lack of reasonable care of the property. )

Internal Decoration Grants

Usually, a  one off grant of upto £1,500 is given on receipt of invoices within three months of moving in. Under exceptional circumstances this could be reviewed.  This should be discussed with the appropriate Archdeacon before moving in.  No decorating will be undertaken by the DBF other than consequential decorations as a result of major works.

 

Insurance

The DBF insures the Property’s (ie buildings insurance) together with their fixtures and fittings for standard risk including third party claims.  Any damage or any claim for compensation should be reported immediately to the Property Team who will advise, and who will, if appropriate, notify the insurers.

Household contents including TV aerials are not covered.  It is important that clergy make their own arrangements for the insurance of their personal possessions.

 

Repairs:  External

External repairs, agreed by the DBF to be necessary, are the responsibility of the DBF.  The DBF, in consultation with the clergy concerned, reserves the right of discretion to remove unnecessary items and demolish superfluous buildings where this is agreed to be appropriate.

Repairs:  Internal

The DBF expects clergy to do very basic jobs such as replacing a missing screw.  Care should be taken not to undertake any work which would put people at risk, nor to embark on repairs which are beyond the capabilities of those concerned.  All non-emergency work involving the DBF in expenditure must be approved through the Property Team before work is put in hand.

It is a legal requirement that work to the electrical installation should only be carried out by a ‘competent contractor' (includes any Full Scope Part P Competent Contractor carrying certification from NICEIC, ECA, ELECSA and NAPIT) Work to the gas installation must not be carried out except by Gas Safe Register approved contractors. (Formerly CORGI.)

Water Rates

The DBF pay water rates/meters unless there is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in place with an external tenant in which case the tenants are responsible for water rates in respect of the houses which they rent.

Water rates are not paid when a house is temporarily unoccupied

 

Legal Framework

Quinquennial Inspection

These are carried out every five years.  The Diocesan Surveyor normally undertakes the survey.  The inspection will review the condition of the house and its grounds.  The surveys are not intrusive and occupants are not asked to undertake special preparation prior to the survey.  However, the surveyor will need to see all round the property and access should be afforded accordingly. Following the survey a short report will be issued including a list of minor and holding repairs that will be undertaken as a result of the inspection.  Proposals for improvement works will only be implemented as budgets allow.

Alterations

Incumbents should be aware that under the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972 no additions or alterations may be made to a Parsonage house without the prior consent of the DBF.  Others who occupy houses owned by the Diocese should note that their occupation gives them no right to alter or add to the property.

Green Guide

The Church Commissioners publish a book on parsonage standards and good practice known commonly as ‘the Green Guide’.  The guide is applicable to new build parsonage housing.  The DBF also uses the document as a broad guide to assess the suitability of existing housing or new acquisitions but, for a variety of reasons, it is unrealistic to expect that all parsonages will comply exactly with all the guidelines within the latest edition. 

Lettings and Lodgers

The law governing the letting or leasing of a parsonage house or its grounds is complex and numerous approvals are required.  If clergy or PCCs believe there are special circumstances that will make a tenancy or lease appropriate they should, in the first instance, contact the Property Team for advice on procedures.

There are legal considerations to be taken into account when clergy take in lodgers.  The DBF must be consulted and agreement reached before any such arrangement is made.  In the event of an interregnum all lodgers must vacate with or before the incumbent.

If a house is going to be vacant for some time, the DBF will look to let the property (usually for a minimum of 6 months) until such a time as the vacancy is filled or the house is put on the open market for sale.   The letting is undertaken through professional letting agents.  If the house is a parsonage house the landlords will legally be the sequestrators (i.e. the area dean and churchwardens), however in practice they will have no involvement in the day to day matters of the tenancy, these being handled by the letting agent and the Property Team.

 

If the house is to be let out during the vacancy, responsibility for the utility bills will be passed to the tenant.   The PCC should ensure that meter readings are obtained at this point either by agreeing these with the letting agent or the tenant direct.

 

Party Wall, etc Act 1996

Party walls exist where two properties share a common dividing wall; this can take the form of a property or structure for example a garden boundary wall or house wall.  Before work can be commenced on such walls, agreement must be reached with the adjoining owner, and a Party Wall Notice served.  If you should need any work doing or receive such a notice or your neighbour commences work on such a wall please contact the Property Team before commencing any negotiations.

 

Other Building Works Concerned With Former Church Property

Many of the present parsonage houses have been constructed on land or in close proximity to the old parsonage and former church buildings.  When old parsonages and church property were sold off restrictions may have been placed on the property in connection with its use, extension or alteration and new building.  Please inform the Property Team if any new developments or building works takes place on or around such property. 

 

Statutory Notices

If a Statutory Notice has been served upon an Incumbent i.e. planning proposal, the Property Team should be informed immediately

 

Listed Buildings

Some houses are listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as being of architectural interest and are required by law to be kept in good order.  Alterations or major repairs require planning permission and Listed Buildings consent.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE:  When a building is listed, it is listed in its entirety, which means that both the exterior and the interior are protected. In addition, any object or structure fixed to the building, and any object or structure within the curtilage of the building, which although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948, are treated as part of the listed building.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs listed building consent without obtaining that consent beforehand.

Occupants of a Listed Building will be informed of this fact at appointment.

 

From Moving in to Moving Out

Acceptance of an Appointment

During a vacancy a visit will be made by the Diocesan Surveyor, who may be accompanied by the Archdeacon and others, to inspect the house and make recommendations about work that is required to the property.

A schedule of work will be prepared and implemented and the DBF will finance all the repairs and improvement thought to be necessary and affordable within budgetary constraints. 

Before anyone is offered a post in the Diocese, where the occupation of a house is part of the appointment package, the individual will be shown the house and made aware of any work that the DBF have undertaken or are planning to do during the vacancy. Additional work may be agreed subject to the approval of the DBF.

Prior to Moving In

The  Property Team is normally informed of a pending appointment and some informal discussions may then take place regarding the Property.  Please note that financial assistance is available for moving and first appointments.  Details of which are available from the Offices.

Keys

These are kept locally and arrangements for their hand over should be agreed with the Property Team.  Priests-in-charge, assistant clergy and lay occupants of properties will not be handed the keys until a license agreement or tenancy agreement has been signed and returned to the Property Team. The replacement of locks and keys as a result of loss or theft rests with the occupier and in most cases is covered by a contents insurance policy

Adaptations for the Disabled

It is the policy of the DBF to undertake the reasonable adaptation of property to accommodate the needs of clergy and their resident dependants.  It is not the policy of the DBF to finance adaptations for occasional visitors to the house (whether family members or otherwise).  However the DBF will support self-financed adjustments where these are both reversible and carried out to the specification of the Diocesan Surveyor.

Parsonages and all other housing are private dwellings and, as such do not come under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & 2005.  It is not therefore appropriate or possible for the DBF to make adaptations to properties for visitors.  It is recommended that for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the Act that clergy make ‘Alternative provisions’ such as meeting individuals in their own homes or arranging meetings in other premises.

Fixtures

The fixtures within a property are reviewed at vacancy and checked during the Quinquennial Inspection.  Occupants are asked to consult with the Property Team prior to removing, altering or adapting fixtures. 

Instruction Booklets

All instruction booklets/manuals should be kept in a safe place and close to hand should any engineer/contractor be on site and want to undertake any servicing or repair of the appliances at the property. 

Pets

If clergy families keep domestic pets they will be held liable for any damage that arises as a consequence and will be asked to pay for professional cleaning if deemed necessary.  Under no circumstances should houses be modified, for example, by the fitting of cat flaps etc. unless prior written approval has been obtained from the Property Team.

Meter Readings

Upon occupation and vacation of houses occupants should read all meters.  This is important for your own protection.

Self-Financed Improvements

Diocesan policies are broadly framed so that individuals are neither favoured nor disadvantaged by their own or local circumstances.  There are occasions however where occupants wish to make improvements to properties that are outside the normal provision of the DBF.  The DBF always considers requests for such improvements and applications should be made in writing to the Property Team who may then wish to visit the house with the Archdeacon. 

In reaching its decision the DBF will consider the effect of the improvement on the property in terms of both the local context and of the diocesan property portfolio.  A key consideration will be the ongoing cost of maintenance once the occupant has moved on.  The DBF may stipulate that the improvement must be removed at the end of the occupancy, if it is thought to be un-sustainable.

The improvements will only be allowed if they are carried out to a specification agreed with the Diocesan Surveyor and subject to inspection of the works on completion.

PCC-Financed Improvements

From time to time PCC’s wish to support the ministry of their clergy (and indeed the work of the DBF) by funding improvements to the property.  Such improvements must be approved by the DBF and will be assessed on the criteria outlined. 

Security Precautions

  • All doors and windows should be kept locked and alarms switched on in times of absence from the property.
  • Cancel all deliveries, milk, newspapers and ask someone to check that the post and free newspapers are not sticking out of the letterbox.   Alternatively, ask the sorting office to hold post.
  • Don’t leave notes for tradesmen.  Telephone them instead.
  • Ask a neighbour or friend to water the garden and indoor plants, mow the lawn and cut the hedge.  They might also be asked to park their car occasionally on the drive or in front of the house and put the bin out on bin day.
  • If everyone in the household is to be out until after dark, leave a light on in a room, not the hall.  A time switch or light-sensitive fitting is recommended.
  • In the house remember that curtains and blinds drawn in the daytime attract the thief.
  • Make sure the doorbell is only audible from the inside – let people assume it is not working rather than not being answered.
  • Disconnect telephones that can be heard left ringing (particularly those on window sills).  Also, any answerphone message should always say “We cannot come to the phone at present”, rather than “we are not here”.
  • Keep garage doors shut and locked.  If the garage has windows, use curtains or blinds to block prying eyes.   No car often means that nobody is home.

Fire Precautions

  • Never leave matches or lighters where children can find them.
  • Never leave a lit cigarette unattended – it may fall onto an armchair or carpet, which could catch fire, giving off dense smoke and fumes.
  • Do not use candles where there are safer alternatives.  If you do, never leave them unattended and extinguish them properly.
  • Use fireguards around fires and heaters to protect children.   Never place clothes on the guard to dry or put papers on the guard.
  • Always stand portable heaters in a safe place where they cannot be knocked or tripped over.  Keep them well away from furniture and soft furnishings, such as curtains and cushions and never place them next to beds or where objects may fall onto them.
  • Check that your furniture conforms to current fire resistant standards.  Look for the warnings on labels.
  • Turn off and unplug electrical equipment unless it is designed to be left on.
  • Keep curtains well away from any cooker and television sets.
  • Do not leave aerosols in direct sunlight or use them near flames, hot electric elements or other potential sources of ignition.  They may contain a flammable propellant gas.
  • Do not place mirrors or bottles in direct sunlight as concentrated sun-rays can start a fire.  Windows with a glass lens-like piece imitating old glass should not be used in south-facing windows.

Vacating

When vacating a Property the following advice must be followed.

  • Keys must be left with the Churchwardens/Property Team
  • Meters must be read
  • All water (including the heating and hot and cold water systems) must be drained from the house unless otherwise agreed.  Arrangements for this are made by the Property Team once the house is vacated.
  • The house must be made secure
  • Fittings and fixtures must remain
  • The house must be cleared of all furniture and personal possessions.  Carpets and curtains may be left for the next occupants by private arrangement.
  • The house must be left clean, tidy and in good repair.
  • There must be twice weekly internal and external inspections of the house made by a Parish representative (this is a prerequisite of the insurance policy).

Spouses in Parsonage Houses Following Death in Service

Following the death of a serving clergy person, the spouse should be reassured that he/she will be able to remain in the house for a period of not less than six months.  During that period, the Bishop’s Visitor will work closely with the family to discuss and consider their future housing needs.

 

Use of the House

Policy Statement on Clergy and Parish Offices

 

Background

The provision of this policy has become necessary because, in recent years, Parish Offices have evolved and the tendency for these to be integral with the parsonage study is beyond the scope of the Parsonages Green Guide and the remit of the DBF.

 

Definitions

  • Parsonage Study:        Every Parsonage must include a separate room designated as the study.  This must meet the parson’s need for a place of work and quieter activities, both pastoral and administrative, and to hold in privacy interviews and small meetings without disturbance.  Sufficient space in the study for these activities will prevent their encroaching on family life elsewhere in the parsonage.  Crucially, the use of this space (as with the rest of the house) is under the control of any given incumbent and not the churchwardens, PCC or other members of the church.  The study is not intended to accommodate parochial plant. Nor is it designed to be the administrative centre of parish affairs. However, any particular incumbent may engage, at their discretion, the services of a secretary or assistant to work from the parsonage study.
  • Parish Office:              This facility, where it exists, should not be integral with the parsonage house.  It may therefore be the place of ‘work’ for an incumbent and Parish Administrator and will be a focus for administrative functions beyond the scope of the incumbent’s private and personal matters.  The size and nature of the Parish Office will vary greatly depending on the size and shape of ministry in the benefice.  The provision of a Parish Office facility is a local matter and under the control of the incumbent, churchwardens, and other officers of the benefice or parish.

Study Policy

The DBF will identify and designate in each parsonage house a room to serve as the Study.  Each such room will be equipped with bookshelves, telephone point and adequate power points to enable the safe operation of a personal computer, fax machine and task lighting etc.  Where practicable this room will be adjacent to the front door, a ground floor toilet and, if layout allows, a lobby will be divided from the rest of the accommodation by some form of partition.

 

Guidance Note

The DBF encourages all diocesan clergy to be careful in the use of terms.  The preferred designation is ‘Study’ and the use of the word ‘office’ is discouraged as it confuses and raises local expectation as to the use of the study within the parsonage by others.  The ‘Green Guide’ applies to ‘new build’ parsonage houses.  Certain compromises in layout may have to be accepted in houses that already exist in the Diocese or where a property is purchased to provide a new parsonage house.  The DBF aims to move houses as close to the ‘Green Guide’ as practical within the physical constraints of any building.  Clergy are encouraged to adopt sensible modes of operation within the context of their own local situation.

 

The DBF asks that practices are not set up locally that would be difficult to sustain during a vacancy or may be incompatible with the lifestyle or expectations of any future incumbency. 

PCC’s and church officers need to be encouraged not to see any accruing right for the study to become a centre for parish administration.  The nature of the study and the rest of the house are essentially private.  To give indication that it is otherwise is to open the door to complication in terms of insurances, public liability, employment law and so forth.

 

PCC’s and churchwardens should note that to ask prospective candidates how they intend to use the house if appointed during the interview process might be considered inappropriate.

 

Reception Rooms

The Green Guide clearly states that: “one of the family rooms (generally the living room) should be sufficiently large to allow clergy to offer hospitality to their parishioners.  However this room should not be regarded as a substitute for a proper parish meeting place elsewhere.”

 

Guidance Note

In reviewing the use and designation of the Parsonage Study, the DBF feels it appropriate to reiterate the above guidance and its clear emphasis on ‘hospitality’ rather than the normally assumed ‘use for meetings’.  Meeting facilities and arrangements for meetings are a local matter and are beyond the scope and remit of the DBF and the proper use of the parsonage house. As with the Study, any existing arrangements involving the ‘use’ of the reception rooms should lapse with a vacancy. They may only be reinstated at the discretion of the new occupants of the parsonage.

 

Insurance

Local arrangements must be made for the insurance of any contents in the parsonage.  

 

 

General Guidance (Property)

This guidance is offered so that you are able to assist in the maintenance of the Property you occupy and to ensure that all that can be done locally is being carried out so as to avoid costly repairs arising from untimely notification of problems to the Property Team.

Air Bricks and Damp Courses

Most houses have these.  It is essential to see that earth and vegetation is prevented from blocking air bricks and that no earth is above the damp course.  Walls should be kept clear of earth to a depth of about 9 inches (225 mm) below ground floor level or 6 inches (150 mm) below the damp course.  In particular care should be taken if occupants are altering garden and/or paving levels.

Asbestos

The Diocese  has a duty of care, in its role as a property manager, to any contractors engaged to undertake work on vicarage premises and will ensure that the appropriate legislation is followed.  In parishes where ministers and other church workers operate from PCC owned property the Diocese draws attention to the duty of care that rests with the building owner.

Chimneys and Flues

The regular sweeping of chimneys used for open fires, or for any solid fuel burning stove, is essential.  Blocked chimneys or flues can be fatal.  Chimney fires can cause great damage to the house and unnecessary inconvenience to the family.  Keeping chimneys clear is the occupant’s responsibility.

Where appropriate the sweeping of flues to open fires will be carried out by the Parish during a vacancy and before a new incumbent moves in.

Condensation

Millions of homes in the UK suffer from condensation every year.  Condensation is simply a result of warm, moisture laden air coming into contact with a cold surface and turning from a warm vapour into condensing water droplets. Condensation usually appears on windows and mirrors.  In extreme cases, it can cause mould to appear inside cupboards, on clothes inside wardrobes and behind furniture close to or in contact with external walls.  Fortunately, extreme cases like this are very rare and the problem should be dealt with or recognised long before this situation arises.  If you think you have a problem with condensation please contact the Property Team.

The occupants of the house can greatly assist in preventing condensation problems where possible, for example:

  • by using extractor fans provided in kitchens and bathrooms and not turning these off at the isolator;
  • by having a constant gentle and even heat throughout the property; i.e. not turning off the heat in unused rooms and not going from extreme heat to cold.

Exceptionally bad cases of condensation can cause health problems to occupants and damage to the fabric of the building.

Decorations – External

The DBF will arrange for the outside of the house, including its outbuildings, to be painted, stained or treated with preservative as appropriate at five yearly intervals.

Decorations – Internal

  • AT VACANCY:  See ‘Internal Decoration Grants’ 
  • AT OTHER TIMES: If redecoration is necessary as a consequence of building works authorised and carried out by the DBF, then reasonable costs involved will be met.  If redecoration is necessary as the result of an insurable event such as fire, flood or structural improvement, then the Property Team will make the necessary arrangements. 
  • UNDERTAKING THE WORK: Many PCCs assist clergy and some occupants “Do it Themselves”.  If you or other volunteers carry out the work, care must be taken to ensure that everyone works safely, within their competence and to a decent standard.  Whatever method you adopt the Property Team trusts that you will hand over the house in good order.Thought should be given to colour schemes.  If you paint the walls in bold colours they must be returned to neutral shades prior to vacating the property to ensure that the property can immediately be re-occupied either by a member of the clergy or a tenant.

Drains

  • TOILETS: Sewers are only designed to take away water, toilet tissue and human waste. All paper and plastic waste, such as sanitary products, nappies and wet wipes, should be wrapped up and placed in a bin. Even the smallest of items, like dental floss and cotton buds, can have a damaging effect as they collect in the filters at sewage treatment works and can cause machinery to break down. Although wet wipes are very useful when toilet training toddlers or removing makeup, they should be disposed of in the same way as nappies – in the bin. Wipes do not break down like tissue, so may not get washed away down the pipe. When wipes mix with solidified fat, they set hard, forming a solid obstruction.  Even items that are marketed as ‘flushable’ or ‘biodegradable’ contribute to blockages. Although these items disappear when you flush the toilet, they do not break down in the sewers, as they take a number of years to disintegrate.
  • SINKS: Fat and oil poured down the sink after cooking is most likely to block your drains. Fat may be in liquid form when you pour it away but it quickly cools down and becomes hard, forming a thick coating around the inside of the pipes. When fat mixes with other items, such as wet wipes, it can form a solid obstruction, restricting the flow in the pipe and causing a blockage. The wastewater running through the pipe will then find an alternative place to flow out from, which may cause flooding. Please note, these items must NOT be flushed down a toilet or poured down a drain:
    • Fat and oil
    • Wet wipes
    • Female hygiene products
    • Nappies
    • Kitchen roll
    • Food waste
    • Incontinence products
    • Colostomy bags
    • Cotton wool/cotton buds
    • Razor blades
    • Tights
    • Plasters and bandages
    • Latex products
    • Dental floss
    • Medicines and tablets
    • Engine oil, chemicals and paints

Chemicals, solvents, engine oil and paint should be taken to a local refuse site and medicines to a pharmacist for safe disposal. Should the Diocese have to unblock a drain and the blockage is caused due to improper use of the drain the cost of the service will be recharged to the occupant.

Fixtures and Fittings

The Diocese provides and maintains various fixtures and fittings in its properties.  These are reviewed at vacancies and at the quinquennial inspection.  These items should not be removed, altered or adapted without first consulting with the Property Team.  The fixtures and fittings are considered to include the electrical services (power points, switches etc), heating systems, kitchen, bathroom fittings, internal doors and miscellaneous items. When necessary and appropriate the DBF will consider the improvement of all fixtures and fittings (including kitchens and bathrooms) to bring them up to modern standards.  Normally consideration is only given to this as vacancies occur or at the time of the quinquennial survey.

Gutters, Downpipes and Water Butts

All gutters, down pipes, gullies and drains should be cleaned once a year during the autumn once leaves have fallen from the trees.  A further clean in areas surrounded by trees may be beneficial earlier in the year.  Clergy, or during a vacancy, the PCC, should make any appropriate arrangements with a local contractor and submit a claim for the expenditure to the Property Team.  Great care should be taken to ensure qualified contractors carry out the work safely.  People should not be asked to use ladders unless they have been properly trained and qualified for the purpose.  The Property Team arranges gutter clearance at properties at the time of the renewal of external paintwork i.e. once every five years. Under no circumstances should clergy or members of their family undertake gutter clearances themselves, particularly above single storey height, in the light of the risks to health and safety. 

If you decide to install a rainwater butt, please ensure it has an efficient overflow system connected back into the rainwater downpipe. Omission of the overflow connection will result in dampness to the property and potential subsidence to the structure.

Any damage to gutters, downpipes, gullies & drains due to negligence or unauthorised adaptations, must be paid for by the occupant.

 

Insulation

All lofts should be insulated.  Most lofts already have fibreglass quilt insulation to a minimum depth of 4 inches (100 mm).  If a loft is lacking this insulation then the Property Team should be advised.  The laying and subsequent disturbance of insulating material should only be carried out by personnel with the proper protective clothing including a mask.

Loft Ladders

It is not the policy of the DBF to install a loft ladder unless it is considered necessary to enhance storage provision which falls short of what might reasonably be expected to be available.

Overflow Pipes

If you notice that you have water leaking or dripping from an overflow pipe please inform the Property Team immediately. This could be indicative of a much more serious problem and in the worst cases could result in your home being flooded. Please do not ignore leaking overflow pipes.  They are easy to fix in the early stages but can cause costly and major problems to the structure if left unattended.

Pest Control

The top ten common household pests in the UK are flies, fleas, ants, wasps, mice, rats, spiders, moths, woodlice, bedbugs and cockroaches.  Your local council will have a pest control service.  Occupants must insure that domestic pets such as cats and dogs are regularly treated to prevent flea infestations.  Costs of works would be met by the occupant, although under exceptional circumstances this may be met by the DBF.

Replacement Windows

Houses have single glazing, secondary glazing or double glazing.  The DBF will consider replacing existing singled glazed windows or secondary glazed windows with double glazed sealed units during a vacancy, at the time of the quinquennial inspection or where exceptional circumstances prevail.  Priority will be given to replacement of windows where insulation is poor; the fabric has deteriorated or there is a security dimension and is subject to budget availability.

Security

The DBF places a high priority on ensuring that houses have good physical security including high quality locks to British Standard on stout doors and windows that can be locked shut. It is not appropriate or possible to seek to make Parsonage houses into fortresses, for inappropriate measures can single them out as targets and are therefore counter productive. Clergy concerned about the security of their house are advised to consult with the Property Team who will be able to offer guidance on good practice.

 

General Guidance (Grounds)

Boundaries

When work is required to existing boundary fences, walls etc, the Property Team must first be consulted.  Responsibility may be with the owner on either side, or it may be shared with them.  If responsibility is with the property or partly with the property, then the Board will meet the cost or its share of the cost.  However, should the repair to the boundary be necessary due to neglect, the occupant will be liable for the cost.  The Board cannot meet the expense of changing boundary fencing for the occupant’s preferred type for their children or domestic pets.

Driveways

Clergy families should keep all paved areas in good condition with weeds removed and drains kept clear of earth and other obstructions.  Any deterioration of the surface should be reported to the Property Team.

Fishponds

The Diocese is not responsible for the upkeep or maintenance of fishponds.  When you vacate your property please ensure that all fish have been removed from the pond and that no ongoing maintenance will be required after your departure.

Gardens

Maintenance of gardens is the responsibility of the occupant.

It is expected that gardens will be kept in good order by the clergy or, during vacancy, by the Parochial Church Councils.

 

Hedges

Hedges are considered as part of the garden and as such are the responsibility of the occupant, or, in a vacancy, the PCC.  Expenditure on maintenance will not be reimbursed.  In exceptional circumstances the DBF may consider a grant towards costs. Occupants of parsonages should not plant Cupressus leylandii as hedge screening because of its rapid growth.  Hedges should be kept at a height that is easy to maintain. (Max 6ft or 1.8m)

Japanese Knotweed

There are increasing instances in parsonage properties where we have to deal with infestations of this difficult weed.  First, it is important to note that it is illegal to plant or propagate this plant.  Secondly, it is extremely invasive and causes serious damage to buildings and other structures. The weed is difficult and expensive to deal with but it is vital that it is removed once it is seen on site.  This is a task for a specialist contractor and should not be attempted by occupants.  Please contact the Property Team if you see the plant in your garden.  The stem of the plant can reach 3m high and is bamboo like in appearance. The leaves are ‘heart shaped’ and a lush green colour. It produces white flowers around September and October depending on it’s geographical location.  It grows with great speed.

 

Lighting

The outside of the house should be well lit for convenience and safety and to help with security.  Each house is different and what is required will depend on local circumstances, the position of the house, the closeness of streetlights etc.  Where additional security is required, the DBF will consider meeting the cost of automatically operated external lights controlled with daylight sensors.  Consideration will normally be given to the installation of these as vacancies occur or at the time of the quinquennial survey.

Sheds and Greenhouses

The DBF is not responsible for the maintenance or provision of sheds or greenhouses. If the occupier wishes to provide their own please contact the Property Team to discuss further.

 

Trees

Advice should always be sought from the Property Team before any tree is planted or replaced.  Trees grown in proximity to buildings can cause severe and very expensive structural damage. Written permission must be obtained from the Property Team before a tree is felled.  Normally the work will be organised through the Property Team, however, you may be required by the Diocese to remove sapling trees at a quinquennial inspection.  These will normally be immature self-sown forest trees.

There are regulations in force concerning trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders and trees in Conservation areas.  The Local Authority strictly enforces these regulations. Their written consent is required before any tree work is carried out even if the tree is diseased or dead.  Unauthorised lopping or felling, or the causing of damage to a tree, will result in a fine and can cause much ill feeling.  Normally when work to trees is required the Property Team will appoint a specialist contractor who will be required to conduct consultations with the Local Planning Authority before proceeding.

 

Mechanical and Electrical Services

Alarm Systems

  • Intruder Alarm Systems Nearly all parsonage houses have intruder alarm systems.  The installation of an alarm system, where there is none, will be considered by the DBF as vacancies occur or at the time of the quinquennial survey.  Where the need is clearly demonstrated, the DBF will consider installing an Intruder Alarm System. The maintenance costs of the system will be paid by the DBF. An Intruder Alarm System should comply with British Standard 4737 and quotations will only be sought from reputable specialist contractors that are firms either recommended by the Police or on the official list of NSI registered firms (Formerly NACOSS).

  • Smoke Alarms Smoke alarms should be fitted to all houses.  Maintenance of these, and the replacement of the batteries, is the responsibility of the occupant.

  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms The DBF will meet the cost of provision. Maintenance of these and the replacement of the batteries, is the responsibility of the occupant

Boilers

The DBF has arrangements in place for the annual servicing of gas fired and oil-fired boilers.  If servicing is not taking place on an annual basis, or is not satisfactory, the Property Team should be advised.

Built-in appliances

In certain situations built in appliances may be found in kitchens.  The DBF is committed to maintaining these appliances.  However, a pragmatic approach will be taken towards removing these anomalies (normally at vacancy or kitchen refurbishment) and arrangements will be made where current occupancies exist to enable new appliances to be purchased. 

 

Electrical Installations

The Diocese is required by law to undertake a periodic inspection (every 10 years) of the electrical installations.  This inspection may highlight necessary repairs or upgrades to the system and these works are given a very high priority as not to undertake such repairs may affect occupant safety. Additionally diocesan contractors undertake visual inspections of the installation at each change of occupancy. Occupants are reminded that recent changes in legislation require registered contractors undertake all electrical works.  Occupants must not adapt or alter the electrical systems installed in the property. 

Gas Installation

The DBF has in place arrangements for the annual testing of the gas installation including all appliances in the house.  The testing will usually coincide with the servicing of any gas-fired boiler.  The DBF, in consultation with the clergy family concerned, reserves the option of removing unsafe gas fires when it considers this to be more appropriate. Gas fired cookers will be tested as part of the annual gas test. Work to the gas installation and to gas appliances may only be carried out by Gas Safe Registered contractors.  This is a legal requirement necessary on grounds of safety.

If there is a suspicion of a gas leak the following procedure should be followed:

  • Extinguish all naked flames.  Do not switch on or off any electric lights or appliances because the spark in the switch may cause an explosion.
  • If possible turn off the gas supply at the mains.
  • Ensure good ventilation by opening doors and windows wide.
  • Seek help.  Call NATIONAL GRID – Tel: 0800 111999 If this is not possible help should be sought from the contractor engaged to service the boiler and test the gas installation.  If this is not possible then assistance may be sought from any Gas Safe registered contractor.

Heating

It is the policy of the DBF to provide all houses in its care with full central heating.  Where gas is available this will normally be the fuel provided.  Oil will be the secondary resort.  In areas where gas becomes available the system may be adapted but this will be at the discretion of the Property Team within the context of the age and condition of the existing system.

  • Heating Oil Tanks The Property Team has in place provision for the annual servicing and inspection of domestic oil installations.  Please make sure you order your heating oil in good time and never allow the tank to run dry or until empty.  This will cause your whole system to stop working and will additionally require a qualified heating engineer to attend site, remove all the air-locks from the system and get it working again.  Any costs for such avoidable work will be fully recharged to the occupant at the time of the repair.  If you suspect an oil leak anywhere in the system it is essential that you inform the Property Team immediately.  Leaks can be noticed by smell, grass and plants dying or brown patches appearing on your lawns or borders. Please be extremely careful when gardening, digging, strimming or cutting the grass when you are anywhere near the oil pipes or oil tank in your garden.
  • LPG Gas Installations The gas tank and fittings installed on the tank are the property of the LPG supplier who is responsible for regular maintenance. 

Secondary Heating

It is the intention of the DBF to provide secondary heating in the study and the principal living room.  This heat source is designed to enable other areas of the house to be kept cooler through the day or to provide a boost in cold weather or when hospitality is being offered.  The secondary heating source should therefore be instantaneous in nature (i.e. a gas fire).  The DBF does not consider wood burning stoves to be capable of providing such a provision. The DBF recognises where solid fuel fires already exist they should not be removed.  However the installation of new solid fuel appliances will only be considered by application to the Property Team and by the PCC or occupier being responsible for the cost.

Private Sewage Installations

The Property Team has in place annual provisions for the inspection and maintenance of private sewage installations. It is particularly important that the guidelines concerning what may or may not be flushed down your toilet or put into the drains are strictly adhered to for this type of installation.

Septic Tanks and Cess Pits

The DBF will meet the reasonable costs of emptying septic tanks but arrangements for emptying should be made locally.  Please note these items must NOT be flushed into a septic tank:

  • Baby wipes
  • Cat litter
  • Chemicals: bleach, thinners, oils, varnishes, paints, pesticides
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cooking oil
  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips)
  • Dental floss
  • Female hygiene products
  • Latex products
  • Medicine
  • Nappies

The above list is by no means exhaustive but indicates the wide range of products that are not compatible with a septic tank.

Showers

Showers are provided by the DBF as an improvement.  The normal provision is an instantaneous electric shower over the bath, thermostatically controlled for safety, but some houses, for various reasons, have other arrangements. Curtains and shower doors must be properly positioned to avoid water getting on to the floors.  All seals should be regularly checked and any defects reported to the office early before significant water damage can occur.

Emergency Plumbing Issues

  • Frozen Pipes:  If the pipe freezes, turn off the water supply at the stop tap, usually located under the sink.  Open all cold water taps and flush the toilet to empty the water storage cistern and then very carefully thaw out the pipes,  this should not be undertaken quickly as there may be splits in the pipe which will not be evident until the pipes have thawed.
  • Burst Pipes: The first thing to do is to prevent water passing the point of the leak.  Start by turning off all the stop taps, if the escaping water cannot be controlled immediately, open all cold water taps so that the pipework and storage system drains quickly.  DO NOT TURN ON THE HOT WATER TAPS.  Switch off the central heating system and any electric immersion heater, and then call the Property Team who will endeavour to get a local plumber out as soon as possible.  However if this happens after office hours or on a weekend, please contact a plumber from list of Contractors provided by the Property Team or by making your own enquiries locally.

 

What The Diocese Does Not Provide

Carpets

Carpets are not provided by the Diocese and are a private matter for occupants.  At the end of your occupancy you may leave these items behind for the use of your successor in office.  It should not be assumed by incoming occupants that carpets or curtains will be left for their use as a matter of course. Carpets in particular are vulnerable to damage, particularly if the property has been let during a vacancy.  Whilst the Diocese endeavours to vet its tenants through their agents it cannot be guaranteed that carpets will be left in a usable state once the property is returned to clergy use.  Any serviceable carpets present within a house at the start of a new incumbency should be regarded as a bonus whether the previous occupant was a tenant of the Diocese or a predecessor in office.  If outgoing clergy wish to negotiate a payment from their successors in office for carpets or curtains they should indicate their intention to do so to the Property Team. The moving grant offered by the Diocese is intended to cover, in part, the costs of carpets and curtains.

The Diocese provides and takes maintenance responsibility for vinyl flooring surfaces in kitchens, toilets and bathrooms.

 

Cookers

The DBF do not provide cookers. The occupant will be responsible for ensuring that the appropriate engineer is engaged (Gas Safety Registered for gas or “Part P Certified” for electric) to fit the cooker and supply the Property Team with a copy of the certificate. The normal provision for a space to put the cooker will be a 600 mm gap.

 

Cleaning

Under normal circumstances the Board does not provide cleaning prior to the move-in of a new priest. If however, the Board has undertaken works in the property, a builders clean will be commissioned.

Curtains

The diocese does not provide curtains or rails for any area of the property.  The resettlement grant offered by the Diocese is intended to cover, in part, the costs of curtains.

Telephones

The initial installation of telephone sockets for the ‘public number’ is the responsibility of the DBF. Where occupants wish to install a second line for personal private use they may do so but all arrangements for this are personal and local. Usually a socket will be provided in the study and main bedroom. Any other additional sockets will be at the expense of the occupier and the approval of the Property Team.The repair, maintenance, and replacement of the telephone are the responsibility of the clergy or of the PCC as locally agreed. The DBF is not responsible for installing, maintaining or providing extra points for answering machines, computers or other office equipment.

  • Cable Telephone.  The installation of fibre-optic telephone cables is not permitted except on written application.  Installation is subject to the written approval of the DBF and to an undertaking that the occupant and/or PCC formally accept the responsibility for any and all consequential costs arising.

Television

The DBF does not accept responsibility for the provision or repair of TV aerials and related equipment.

  • Cable TV.  The installation of fibre-optic telephone cables is not permitted except on written application.  It is subject to the written approval of the DBF and to an undertaking that the householder and/or PCC formally accept the responsibility for any and all consequential costs arising.
  • Satellite TV.  In more remote locations cable TV will not be available and TV reception may possibly be poor.  The installation of satellite dishes is not permitted except on written application and is subject to the written consent of the DBF.  Consent will usually be given subject to an undertaking that the occupant and/or PCC formally accept the responsibility for any and all consequential costs arising from provision or removal. 

The erection of a satellite dish may require the consent of the Local Authority, and the householder should make his or her own enquiries about this.

 

Addresses and Telephone Numbers

Archdeacon of Bradford

 

The Venerable Andy Jolley    
1 Selborne Grove, Bradford BD9 4NL

(01274) 405720              
andy.jolley [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Archdeacon of Halifax

The Venerable Anne Dawtry 
2 Vicarage Gardens, Rastrick, Brighouse HD6 3HD

(01484) 714553              
archdeacon.halifax [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Archdeacon of Leeds

The Venerable Paul Ayers      
2 Wike Ridge Avenue, Leeds LS17 9NL

(0113) 2690594              
paul.ayers [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Archdeacon of Pontefract

The Venerable Peter Townley
The Vicarage, Kirkthorpe, Wakefield WF1 5SZ

(01924) 896327              
archdeacon.pontefract [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven

The Venerable Jonathan Gough        
4 Appleby Way, Knaresborough HG5 9LX

01423 866 717    
jonathan.gough [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

Emergency Call Out

Outside office hours and in the event of emergency you are authorised to engage local contractors to effect immediate repairs to make the property safe and secure.  This repair may not necessarily be the final repair and may be a holding repair to enable the Property Team or others to come and advise on the final outcome of any particular event.

As a first port of call seek help from the list provided by the Property Team or from local advice on a suitable contractor or use the telephone directory.

 

All breaches of security MUST be reported to the police and a crime number obtained so that the Property Team are able to make a claim through the insurance policies.

All instances where Emergency Procedures have been followed should be communicated as soon as practical to the Property Team.

 

 

Downloads

A Checklist of Help

Asbestos

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Instructions To Church Wardens During Vacancies

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