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Buildings and property: Property FAQs

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1. How are properties selected for quinquennial works?

All properties should have a quinquennial every six years. One fifth of all properties are surveyed and costed every year in preparation for the following year. This allows a budget forecast to be determined in advance, which is then compared against the money available. If these figures match, then orders are placed for all properties surveyed and works carried out. If the forecasted figure exceeds the budget figure then a determination on which properties will have work undertaken is made on the basis of condition and need.

2. Who carries out the works on behalf of the Diocese?

The Diocese employs a small number of medium sized contractors who over the years have proven themselves to be capable of managing small to medium size works effectively.

3. How does the Diocese manage these contractors to ensure that the quality of work delivered meets expectations?

Contractors are monitored very closely by the Diocesan property team who visit the site prior to, during and on completion of works. Clients/clergy are also asked to provide feedback following completion of work which helps the property team monitor and improve the service. Regular weekly reviews with the contractor also allow the opportunity for both parties to discuss any issues that may have been raised and for corrective action to be taken.

4. Can the Diocese be sure that they are getting value for money; surely contractors that are locally based must be cheaper?

Local contractors can often appear cheaper; however they very often lack the infrastructure to manage a range of projects and fail to meet other key requirements. The Diocese has a duty of care to all its clients and, therefore, will always ensure that the companies it employs meet standard industry criteria. For example health and safety policy that meets statutory requirements, professionally qualified electricians and Corgi registered plumbers. Diocese contractors price per project not per visit therefore any and all remedial /snagging works on any project are non chargeable. It is also important bear in mind that our contractors are always prepared to attend a call out or incident any time day or night. The Property department undertakes an independent audit through a Quantity surveyors practice annually to ensure costs are within Building Maintenance index parameters.

5. Does the Diocese competitively tender all its work?

Competitive tendering takes place on all major projects i.e. extensions, conversions, building developments. We do not tender for quinquennial or ingoing works as this is a very costly and very time consuming exercise. On quinquennials, contractors are asked to survey a number of properties every year. These surveys are closely audited by the property team to ensure the costs within are in line with current building index costs. Periodically throughout the year alternative contractors are asked to price the same work to ensure costs are realistic. The work the Diocese provides to contractors is core to their business and the continuity enables them to plan much more effectively, considerably reduce abortive work and, therefore, to minimise costs. This methodology has allowed the Diocese to maintain costs at 2004 levels. Since building inflation has probably risen by 16% in that period in real terms, the Diocese is effectively delivering a better product for less money.

6. The Diocese doesn’t always take into account what I want.

Just like any commercial organisation the Diocese has finite resources available and, therefore, all requests from clients/clergy are considered based on need. For example, kitchens and bathrooms that are not serviceable are usually replaced whereas kitchens and bathrooms that may seem outdated, unfashionable or that the incumbent doesn’t like will not be. These are not always easy decisions to make but are made so everyone can enjoy an acceptable standard of housing.

7. If I have a complaint about a contractor who should I contact?

Contact the property team immediately, who will ensure any complaint is thoroughly investigated and take the appropriate action. The number of complaints received each year is very low but we encourage and welcome feedback, good or bad, to further improve our service.

8. How do I know what I am entitled to in terms of housing?

The houses handbook and the minor works handbook provide clear concise guidance on a number of housing issues. These are also available as printed booklets. Any further guidance can be provided by phoning the property team on 020 7932 1250 or emailing: property.enquiries@nulllondon.anglican.org.

9. When I moved into my new home the Diocese was unwilling to redecorate or fit carpets in the property. Why is this?

The Diocese has no responsibility for internal decorations or furnishing except in exceptional circumstances. This is also true of works to gardens (boundaries being the exception). These are a PCC incumbent’s responsibility.

10. I have had work undertaken at my property which has never been checked by the Diocese.

The Diocese will endeavour to visit all major works quinquennial and ingoing. It is not always possible however to make visits to minor repair works as the number of these that are undertaken each year makes visits very difficult. Minor repairs which are of a high value nature will however be closely monitored

11. Our curate is leaving at the end of February and our new Curate will not be arriving until September. We would like to let the house out until he/she arrives – what do we need to do?

The following information should be supplied to Jane Duffy who will then obtain the LDF’s consent, in its role as Diocesan Authority (formerly known as a Custodian Trustee), to the proposed letting

  1. Confirmation email from your Archdeacon that s/he is in agreement with you letting out the property at the proposed rent and to the (proposed) tenant.
  2. PCC minute confirming the agreement to renting out the property at the proposed rent.
  3. Brief description and history of the property
  4. Confirmation of the current rental rate by a local Lettings Agent
  5. Name of the tenant
  6. Proposed Term with agreed start date
  7. Agreed rent
  8. Confirmation that satisfactory references have been obtained
  9. Confirmation that gas/electrical safety certificates are up to date.

12. Why does the lease/tenancy agreement need to be in the name of the LDF?

In accordance with the PCC Powers Measure 1956 PCC cannot own properties in their own right. Parish property is vested in the LDF who acts as the Diocesan Authority (Custodian Trustee) with the PCC as the Managing Trustee.

Parish Property Support

1. Does what I propose to do need faculty consent?

Many maintenance tasks can be carried out as ‘minor works’ and do not need faculty consent. More information can be found here.

2. Is this building/land/tree under faculty?

If a building or land comes under the Faculty Jurisdiction it means that in order to carry out anything beyond minor works you will have to seek faculty consent from the Consistory Court. If a building or churchyard has been consecrated by the Church of England it will come under the Faculty Jurisdiction in the vast majority of cases. This will be the case for nearly all churches built before the Second World War, for most built after, and for all Church of England burial grounds. In cases where land adjoining a church and part of the benefice property (the part that belongs to the incumbent) has not been consecrated as a burial ground, it still comes under the Jurisdiction. Some places of worship have not been consecrated, but have been licensed as places of worship. In those cases the church will come under the faculty jurisdiction in most cases, although the Bishop has discretion to remove the jurisdiction at the time of licensing and that should be clear from the licensing records.

3. What information do I need to send to the DAC to get a recommendation?

This will depend on what you are planning to do. It’s good practice to ask yourself “if I didn’t know the church at all, what would I need to see to get a clear idea of its current state AND what alterations/works are proposed to be carried out”. For major alterations architectural drawings will be needed. For more minor alterations you may be able to illustrate the proposal adequately with annotated photographs. For listed church buildings you should prepare a statement of significance and a statement of needs. More information about the statements can be obtained here.

4. Where can I get money for my project?

Depending on what the project is, where your church is located and whether it is listed by English Heritage, there is a variety of possible grant givers. The Diocese has a list of grant givers for building repair projects here. The charity commission website can also be a useful tool for finding charitable trusts who can support your project.

5. What other permissions (e.g. planning permission) does my project need?

All works materially affecting the external appearance of you church will require planning permission. Unlike houses, churches get no permitted development rights. A short guidance note here explains this further. Listed building consent is almost never needed for buildings which are under the faculty jurisdiction. If your church is in a conservation area additional restrictions are applied to trees and demolitions that would need no consent outside a conservation area. Advertising consent may be required for church noticeboards and you should consult your local authority about that.

6. How long does it take to get a faculty?

This will depend on a number of variables. If the DAC decides it needs to visit then that will add to the time taken (although if you submit thorough documentation that will reduce the need for a visit). The DAC meets ten times a year (monthly apart from August and December). After the DAC has approved the application, which in most cases will be at the first meeting but in complex cases much longer, the faculty petition then needs to be completed and submitted to the Diocesan Registry, and a 28 day notice displayed inside and outside the church. After the notice has expired the faculty may be granted, subject to resolving any objections received in response to the notice. So, a shorter answer would be two months is the least you can expect for the whole process, but it can take a lot longer if a case is complicated, or there are delays in responding to DAC queries.

7. I need a new quinquennial inspector, who should I appoint?

Think about the jobs you want your QI to do. Do you want an extension? Do you want to restore your tower stonework? Do you want to build a new church hall? Let us know and we will suggest some suitably experienced people.

8. Do you have a list of recommended contractors for my project?

We don’t have preferred or recommended contractors, but, depending on what skills you are seeking, we can probably suggest some firms that have done similar work in London in recent years.

9. Can you check through my grant application?

We are happy to look through any documents you have prepared and will advise where we can, but we do not have particular expertise.

10. Do I need an architect for [some task]?

Works that are detailed by a professional are more likely to get consent quickly, simply because he/she will know better how to present the proposal to the DAC, and the DAC will be reassured that the PCC is getting good advice. However, simple jobs (painting the vestry) or specialist jobs (restoring the organ) should not need to be led by an architect.

11. Do you have a standard lease or tenancy agreement that we can use?

No, we recommend that you use a local letting agent or solicitor for this.

12. Can you prepare a lease or tenancy agreement for us?

No, we recommend that you use a local letting agent or solicitor for this.

13. We have a full time nursery starting in our hall next month. Can we use the PCC’s hall hiring agreement for this?

As the use of the hall by the Nursery will be a Business Tenancy the PCC will need to grant a lease to the Nursery. This lease is to be contracted out of the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to avoid the Nursery obtaining security of tenure.

The first step will be for the PCC to appoint a Chartered Surveyor to agree the terms for the lease and to advise the Parish about the appropriate level of rent. This can be done by a local firm of surveyors and the PCC should obtain fee quotes before making the appointment.

Once terms for the Lease have been agreed, the PCC will need to appoint a solicitor. The PCC can use a solicitor of their choice but may wish to use the Diocesan Solicitors, Winckworth Sherwood, who are well experienced with this. Again fees should be agreed up front.

As the LDF is the Diocesan Authority (Custodian Trustee) for the Church hall the formal approval of the Diocesan Finance Committee, as well as the PCC, will be needed once the terms of the Lease have been negotiated with the nursery.

14. We have a number of different users in our hall, when can we use our hiring agreement and when do we need to give them a formal lease?

If the user is a business or has sole use of the accommodation (or part of the accommodation) for a defined period then the letting should be regularised with a Lease contracted out of the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

15. Do we have to use the Diocesan Solicitors?

PCCs may use a solicitor of their choice but where the LDF is a party to the agreement it may be necessary for the PCC to additionally appoint the Diocesan solicitors, Winckworth Sherwood, to act for the LDF. In that case the PCC will also be responsible for paying Winckworth’s fees. The Diocesan Solicitors are expert in ecclesiastical and charity law.

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