Minimum Standards For Clergy Housing

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The following recommended guidelines have been adopted by the Provincial Administration Board for Minimum Standards for Clergy Housing:

1.   When consideration is given to the purchasing of new property for the housing of clergy or to the modernising/upgrading and the continual maintenance of existing property, priority should be given to the standards set out below. Any deviation from these standards must be agreed with the Diocesan Building Committee prior to purchase or to the modernisation/upgrading of the property. All documentation concerning the property for housing the clergy shall be contained in a Property Register designated to the property, with a person responsible for its upkeep.

2.   The minimum standard for housing for principal clergy should not be less than three principal rooms comprising: a lounge, a dining room, a study, four bedrooms, a bathroom with bath/shower, two separate flush toilets, kitchen and utility room (the kitchen and utility room need not be separate, but, if not, the kitchen should contain adequate space for utility functions).

The public rooms should be of adequate proportions for clergy with spouse and family; the property should have a hot water system with plumbing to modern standards for the kitchen, bathroom/shower room, utility room and toilets, which is thermostatically controlled; a central heating system in all rooms, also which is thermostatically controlled, powered by gas, electricity or heating oil.

All rooms should be supplied with adequate electrical point outlets for portable appliances, with the exception of the bathroom/shower room when these should be fixed outlets; these, and their associated wiring should be in accordance with the current Electricity Supply Regulations.

The lounge should normally be provided with a terrestrial television aerial point outlet or other appropriate connection and a radio aerial point outlet from aerials situated on the outside of the building or contained in the roof space or from a communal aerial system.

The kitchen should be provided with sufficient cupboard space at floor level and cupboards at a convenient height on the wall(s) with adequate non-contaminating working surfaces; a sink with single/double drainer; a cooker, either electric or gas supplied; space for a refrigerator and preferably space for a dishwasher with water and power supply, and a waste outlet.

The utility room should be provided with hot and cold water supplies for a sink and for a washing machine with a separate waste outlet; a supply for either electric or gas; also space with power supply for a deep freezer.

The toilet rooms should be provided with hand basin with hot and cold running water for hand-washing facilities.

All rooms with windows should, where possible, contain double-glazing or where this is not possible secondary glazing should be fitted, but ensuring always that adequate ventilation exists where such secondary glazing is fitted. Alternatively, where the installation of double glazing would be inappropriate or disallowed (e.g. a listed building or a building in a conservation area) refurbishment of windows – draughtproofing, overhaul and tightening of moving parts – and the provision of working shutters or heavy curtains should be considered. Where existing windows are designed as fire escapes secondary glazing, if fitted, should not impede escape.

3.   The care of all clergy housing is the responsibility of the Vestry of the Charge (Canon 60); the Vestry should ensure that the properties are adequately maintained and modernised to present day standards and requirements.

4.   All clergy housing should be subject to a Quinquennial Inspection, instituted by the Vestry, by a suitably qualified architect/surveyor, from whose report the Vestry should ensure that the recommendations for work to be carried out in the categories of Urgent, Necessary, Desirable, Aesthetic of the report are expeditiously acted upon. A copy of the report and the proposed actions from the report should be forwarded to the Diocesan Buildings Committee within three months of the receipt of the report by the Vestry.

5.   All service to the property, eg, gas, electricity, water, oil, foul and storm drainage etc. should be subject to regular inspections as required by the providers of these services; where foul and storm drainage are contained within the property or adjacent to it, local authority advice should be sought on the frequency of inspections, and this should be adhered to. A Routine Maintenance Plan should be developed for each property by those responsible for the property and a person should be nominated to ensure the plan is effected.

6.   All clergy housing shall be properly insured by a recognised insurer (Canon 60) and where contents contained in the property belong to the Vestry, they shall be detailed on an inventory, which shall be audited annually, and the contents shall be properly insured by a recognised insurer. There should be adequate security protection as advised by the local Crime Prevention Officer. Such protection should be regularly reviewed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the protection system and appropriate records should be kept.

7.   Adequate fire protection should be provided for all clergy housing, the minimum being the provision of a hard-wired smoke detector in an appropriate location, usually in the area outside the kitchen door leading to the rest of the house. A fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket can be provided if desired. Advice from the local Fire Officer may be sought if the vestry considers it appropriate.. Such protection should be regularly reviewed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the protection system and appropriate records should be kept.

   All clergy housing should conform to the requirements of the Equality Act (as formerly contained in the Disability Discrimination Act) as far as it applies to clergy properties where public access is permitted for study groups, meetings etc. Clergy disability may also require reasonable adjustments to be made. In such circumstances it is suggested that vestries should contact their Diocesan Buildings Committee at the earliest possible stage for guidance.

9.   The Vestry should ensure that the grounds, within which clergy housing is situated, are maintained to a reasonable standard; that party walls/fences/hedges are correctly maintained; that trees of the property are maintained to national and/or local authority standards and do not interfere with neighbouring properties as far as encroachment. The Vestry should ensure that there is adequate outside illumination for accident prevention.

10.   The titles of clergy housing should be lodged, for safe keeping, in accordance with Canon 61, Resolution 7. The property shall not be disposed of without the written consent of the Diocesan Trustees. Any alteration/modernisation/improvement to the property and/or grounds should be approved in writing by the legal owners of clergy housing including the Diocesan Trustees if they are the owners of the property prior to the commencement of work.

11.   Those responsible for the properties shall ensure that an Accident Book is maintained in the property and that all accidents in the home are recorded and promptly attended to.

12.   All floor surfaces in clergy housing, including stairs, should have adequate safe covering in keeping with the property and should be properly maintained.

13.   During a vacancy of a cleric, the Vestry should take the opportunity to have the property surveyed by a competent architect/surveyor, (even if this is between quinquennial inspections), and carry out modernisation/alteration/long term maintenance as agreed with the Diocesan Buildings Committee to bring the property up to the required standards of the day.

14.   On the appointment of a new cleric, and before he/she takes occupancy, the Vestry should consult the new occupant as to the internal decor of the property, which should be to a reasonable standard.

15.   All clergy housing which is “listed” under the Historic Scotland Listed Buildings legislation shall be maintained in accordance with their requirements; no alteration or improvement shall be entered into without listed building consent.

16.   Where clergy housing requires modernisation/alteration/improvement, the appropriate local authority (planning and building control) shall be consulted prior to the commencement of any modernisation/alteration/improvement to ensure that the work to be carried out conforms to the requirements of the statutory building regulations and by-laws, and also those constraints which may be applicable in Conservation areas. All such work must be approved by the Diocesan Buildings Committee.

17.   The Vestry should arrange the provision of a land-line telephone and adequate broadband or suitable internet connection for the use of the cleric during his/her duties; the cost of the installation, line rental, equipment and business call charges and broadband usage shall be paid by the Vestry, subject always to correct tax treatment.

18.   Planning and budgeting for the maintenance/modernisation/improvement of property for clergy shall be the responsibility of the Vestry.

19.   Housing for curates should be as near as possible to the above. Although some relaxation may be given by the Diocesan Buildings Committee, this committee should be consulted prior to purchase/upgrading of properties (see section 10 above).

20.   Where clergy housing does not meet these standards, Vestries should not necessarily dispose of them for these reasons alone; but should endeavour to work towards compliance with these standards in conjunction with the Diocesan Buildings Committee.

21.   Vestries should be aware that funding sources are available for the maintenance/modernisation/improvement of properties for clergy. Information about such grants is available at: and the Diocesan/Provincial treasurer should be consulted about applications.

22.   If there are any aspects of clergy housing which require to be maintained/modernised/altered which are not covered by these standards, the Diocesan Buildings Committee should be consulted in writing, prior to action.

September 2013