Home / Parsonage houses and housing policy
Share this page

Share an article by email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Parsonage houses and housing policy

  1. The property for which the Diocese of London is responsible is substantial. We have a duty of stewardship in relation to that property. We also have a duty to make the best possible use of that property towards the mission of the Church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
  2. This paper, which has been prepared by the Head of Property/Residential Property Manager and has been reviewed and approved by the Bishops and Archdeacons of the Diocese, focuses on residential property. It aims to establish certain principles in relation to our residential property which will, if approved by the Diocesan Finance Committee and Bishop’s Council, be used as a reference point for future property recommendations.
  3. It aims to strike a balance between the pastoral and financial considerations, which will apply to most decisions on property matters. It also allows sufficient flexibility to enable the principles to be applied to the many and various practical circumstances in which our decisions are taken.
  4. It is principally a forward-looking document, i.e. it will be applied to future property situations. It will only be used to change an existing property arrangement with the full consultation and the agreement (where appropriate) of those required in accordance with the Parsonages Measures for parsonage housing and with all relevant parties for other properties.
  5. It is planned to operate these principles for a period of one year, after which they will be reviewed and, if necessary, updated in the light of experience.

General Principles

As a principle it is accepted that due to the public nature of the work of clergy it is important that private space be provided.

  1. The Diocese will provide housing for the Incumbent/Team Vicar/Priest-in-charge in accordance with the Parsonages Measures and Green Guide. This is typically a 4-bedroom house with two bathroom, kitchen/diner, dining room, living room, study and a garage, although it has to be accepted that we are constrained by the property that is actually available in a parish. For example the provision of a garage in many parts of the Diocese is unlikely.
  2. If the existing house does not provided accommodation that is closely in line with the guide the Diocese will endeavour to alter the existing house of find an alternative that is more suitable.
  3. If an existing house is larger than the Green Guide an alternative house or division will be pursued. The feasibility study of the proposed alterations will include pastoral and value considerations.
  4. If a house is larger than "Green Guide", and the PCC wishes to retain the house, this can be achieved by the PCC paying the difference between the cost of having a Green Guide House in the locality compared to he current property, including the cost of the capital. A formal agreement between the parish and Diocese will be drawn up and signed. Where such a proposal could lead to a conflict of interest between the LDF and the parish the latter will be encouraged to seek independent advice.
  5. If the present or future incumbent/priest-in-charge agrees to allow part of a parsonage to be used for PCC purposes, e.g. parish office, then a formal agreement between the PCC; present incumbent/team vicar/priest-in-charge and the Diocese will be drawn up and signed. This will include the clause that when the present incumbent/team vicar/priest-in-charge leaves, the parish will vacate the property if required.
  6. If the house is larger than required and the PCC wishes to use some of the space and a division is possible, the part of the house to be used by the parish should be transferred to the LDF. A formal lease between the parish and the Diocese for the use of this space will be drawn up and signed. Alternatively, in specific situations, the Diocese might be able to offer the PCC the option to purchase al long leasehold or freehold interest of the divided section at market value.
  7. Rental income or capital, from the sale of part of an existing parsonage house, will be credited to the Diocesan Parsonage Reserve Account, for the maintenance of existing or provision of new parsonages.

House for Duty

  1. "House for Duty" is one possible way in some places of responding to the difficulties caused by the shortage of stipendiary clergy. It is an arrangement whereby a priest can live in the Parsonage House in exchange for carrying out certain duties in the parish, but without receiving a stipend. The priest may be retired or possibly a non-stipendiary minister receiving an income in some other way but still able to offer time to ministry.
  2. Any agreement on a "House for Duty" arrangement will last for five years or until the priest reaches the age of 70, whichever is the sooner. Any agreement may be renewed for a further period at the end of five years, and a future agreement may either be for a specified number of years up to a further five years, or on an annual basis. In the case of clergy over the age of 70 it can only be on an annual basis. The Archdeacon should conduct review of licences about six months before the expiry of a licence. The priest may resign giving at least three months notice.
  3. The exact terms of the occupation of the house will be determined in each case, but normally the Bishop’s licence will direct the priest to live there and he will occupy it on the same terms as a priest-in-charge. The Diocese will assume responsibility for major maintenance, but decoration when the priest moves in will be the responsibility of the parish.
  4. Moving expenses and resettlement grants will be paid by the Diocese as for any priest moving to a new parish, but removal expenses when they leave the parish will not be paid. Parishes should meet expenses incurred in connection with parochial responsibilities in full. Frees for any occasional offices taken by the priest in the parish or for parishioners will be payable either to the Incumbent or to the sequestration account.
  5. If a Parsonage house is provided on a House for Duty arrangement instead of for an incumbent the parish will pay the housing charge through the Common Fund in the normal way. The appointed person will pay gas and electric. The PCC will pay the water rates. The Diocese will maintain the house and pay the council tax. It is expected that for a house for duty appointment to operate in this way the appointed person will carry out Sunday duties plus at least 2 other days. The house is for themselves and their family. If they wish to share the house with others then this can be achieved by agreement with the Diocese. Market rent would be paid to the Diocese net of any deductions in respect of heat, light, power etc.
  6. If the appointed person is to carry out less than Sunday duties plus two other days the equivalent of market rent for each day below this level will be paid to the Diocese, (Formula to be devised/Tax implication to be checked.)

Housing of other Staff

Housing of staff other than incumbent/priest-in-charge is a parish responsibility.

  1. "Under special pastoral circumstances" the Diocese may offer an available local property at a reduced rent for a period of time, subject to the Archdeacon obtaining the approval of the Finance Committee:-
    1. Where the Bishop wishes to establish a training post, and it is agreed by the Area Staff and Area Council that the finances of the parish are too limited to purchase or rent a property at full market rate, subject to funds being available.
    2. Where for reasons of mission, the Bishop agrees the appointment of an ordained or licensed lay worker, and it is agreed by the Area Staff and Area Council that the finances of the parish are too limited to purchase or rent a property at full market rate subject to funds being available.
  2. If the Diocese owns a property in the locality and the property is available the parish can rent the house at market value.
  3. For curates in training the Diocese will pay the stipend and council tax. The PCC is required to provide the housing.
  4. In all other situations the PCC should take the decision to support the appointment of additional staff, ordained or lay, by agreeing to fund the full cost of he appointment including housing. The Diocese may be able to support the parish through the provision of a loan to purchase a house. An application form is available for this purpose. The house is then a PCC asset subject to the loan if taken being repaid.

Non Stipendiary Ministers

NSMs are not provided with a house unless they fall into "House for Duty"

Training Posts

The Diocese has 55 training posts; in future the Diocese will include a provision in the budget for contributing toward the cost of housing a number of these clergy. (Actual number to be confirmed.) All parishes will contribute to the cost of this through the Common Fund.

to top