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The Parsonage House Handbook CONTENTS D1. D2. D3. D4. D5. D6. D7. D8. D9. Introduction: The Role of the Parsonages Board The Condition Survey How you can help us Inspections, Repairs and Improvements The Parsonages Maintenance Staff Urgent Work A checklist of help A–Z Contacting Us

NOTE: The procedures outlined apply equally to the freehold properties owned by the Diocesan Board of Finance which, although not subject to the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972, are, nevertheless, administered by the Diocesan Parsonages and Property Committee.

D1.1 Why have I got this guide, is it just another thing to read?

This guide is to help you. You have received it, because the property you (will) occupy comes under the oversight of the Diocesan Parsonages and Property Committee (DPPC). We work in partnership with the parish and with you. The Committee makes and applies policy relating to housing, so that all have equal and fair treatment. If you need to consult the Committee, please contact the Property Administrator of the Parsonages and Property Committee, at the Diocesan Office.

D1.2 So who needs to read this guide?

In short, all those who live in Diocesan housing. Even if you live in a parish house, (one the PCC looks after) this guide might help you and the parish, or it may just be a useful source of information. We would encourage you to discuss this document with your PCC. Deanery representatives to the Parsonages Board, as well as the other members of the Board are happy to talk to you about the role of the Board, and the part we need you to play in the provision of housing in the Diocese of Portsmouth.

D1.3 So, it’s just a set of rules?

In all that the Committee tries to do, we aim to work with a minimum of rules. There are some, because Housing is one of the most expensive costs of the Diocese and we need your help to maintain, improve and conserve our properties, so that parishes are not faced with Quota rises that are inappropriate.

D1.4 Are these just my responsibilities?

You will find that we have tried to clarify what is the responsibility of: The Diocesan Parsonages and Property Committee (DPPC) The Parish or PCC The Occupant of the House

D1.5 So the board are actually trying to help me?

Yes!! We want you to enjoy the house in which you (and your family) live, as part of the support you receive from the Diocese in the exercise of your ministry. No home is ever perfect, but the board tries to do as much as is possible, within the constraints we have, to provide good properties for clergy and their families to live in.

D1.6 So the board has lots of cash for properties then?

No. In this Diocese, Parishes contribute to the cost of the repairs of Parsonage houses in the parish quota system: Fairer Shares. The Board’s budget is often very small. In 2004 it was £250,000, which sounds a lot – but between 130 properties, it doesn’t go far (that’s less than £2000 per property per year). Hence the three-fold division of responsibility between the Board, the parish and the occupant. Each group have a vital role to play in the good maintenance of property. Please make sure that everyone who should do, knows about these responsibilities.

D1.7 What do these staff do?

The staff of the property department do all that is reasonable to help, and often do much more. They understand that works to a parsonage can be stressful and difficult when you are busy with parochial responsibilities. They work very hard to help you – so please help them. Sadly, things sometimes go wrong. Please remember that courtesy costs nothing, and often helps to speed the whole process along. The Staff will always try to do their best.


With effect from April 2005, the DPPC adopted a new procedure for dealing with Property Vacancies. It is now our practice for the Property Department to prepare a Schedule of Condition of the house immediately prior to your arrival and to provide the new occupant with a copy for future reference. The DPPC, is required, under the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972, to ensure that essential work is carried out, and this it is committed to do for you. The Committee correspondingly seeks your commitment to take all reasonable care of the house allowing, of course, for reasonable wear and tear. As you will see later in this guide, the Property Department will undertake quinquennial inspections of the house. Normally this will only look at the exterior and any major concerns that may arise. A full inspection is normally scheduled to take place at the start of a vacancy. If, however, a quinquennial inspection reveals that the house has been

subject to unreasonable wear and tear the inspecting surveyor will request the Archdeacon to visit in order to ascertain the facts. When you come to announce your move to your next appointment the Property Department will send you a reminder about the Schedule of Condition and the need to leave your house in an acceptable condition. During the vacancy an inspection will take place to visit the house and to check its condition in relation to the Schedule of Condition. If the vacancy inspection reveals that the house is in an unacceptable condition (i.e. well beyond reasonable wear and tear) it may be necessary for this to be brought to your attention. If necessary, you may be asked to pay for the cost of remedial works from the resettlement grant you will have received for your next post. If a move to another Diocese is involved, you will be sent a bill for the cost, and the Property Department will notify your new Diocese of what has occurred. Those who are retiring from stipendiary ministry may also be sent a bill to cover any such works. THANK YOU for looking after the property you live in. In this Diocese we are blessed in having an overwhelming number of occupants who take great care of the parsonages and property entrusted to them. Without your help, understanding, and co-operation, our work would be much more difficult and costly.


The DPPC as a board is responsible for: making the best use of the funds it receives to ensure that in partnership with PCCs and occupants, properties are as well maintained, comfortable and economical to run as can be reasonably achieved with a limited budget. Organising Inspections of properties (see below) and carrying out recommended works and repairs. The Buying and disposal of parsonages and property. The parish through the PCC is responsible for: Assisting with the decoration of parsonages. Helping the occupant with general small maintenance. Supporting you in keeping the Parsonage House in good order. The contracts for Alarm systems and fire prevention. You play your part in helping us by: Taking proper care of the house. Keeping the house, fittings, floors, windows, etc. internally clean and in good order. Keeping the garden in a reasonable state of orderliness with grass cut and the drives and paths free of weeds and moss. By leaving the house in a condition immediately available for occupation, even if you anticipate that work will be done to the house after you leave it. If the house has leaking roofs, defective or blocked gutters and down-pipes, overflowing cisterns and any other damp producing defects and you can clear or satisfactorily repair any of these items yourself it will avoid delay and administrative costs and will of course conserve funds for work that you cannot undertake yourself.

Any evidence of wet or dry rot or suspicion of structural defect such as subsidence or excessive cracking, must be notified immediately to the Property Department. A checklist which will assist you to keep the house in good order appears later in this booklet (see page 10).


The Surveyor appointed by the Parsonages and Property Committee makes a thorough inspection of the house in every vacancy and then every five years or so (the Quinquennial Survey) thereafter. The surveyor assesses: (a) Works immediately required, including external painting. (b) Work that might be necessary, in the following five years. (c) Major future repairs such as re-roofing for which the Board will be required to make substantial capital provision. The repairs specified under (a) make up the list of dilapidations. They refer only to the fabric of the house (including kitchens and bathrooms), outbuildings and to the upkeep of drives and fences. Internal decoration, which is the responsibility of you and the parish, is dealt with later in this guide. When vacancies begin, there is an inspection after the previous tenant has left. This is often the ideal time for major works to be undertaken. This is now the major inspection of parsonages and DBF properties, so that we can try to minimise the amount of work that occupants and their families may have to cope with. Wherever possible, we try to carry out urgent works first. We try therefore to make priorities by need and urgency, but like any property manager, we can only work within the timeframes that our contractors specify. You should make the house available to the Surveyor when he contacts you to arrange to visit for an inspection. You should clearly point out any major problems you have noticed, or any work that is outstanding. Please do not confront the Surveyor with a shopping list of things you might like, but do point out if something, in your opinion really needs to be done. Please remember that we try to treat all occupants of property the same. We authorise work that needs to be done. Wherever possible, extra work will be considered, but cannot be guaranteed. If there are ‘extras’ that you or the PCC are prepared to pay for, please mention this to the surveyor. If the board has a very large weight of demands in one year, we may have to spread work into the next or subsequent financial years. Like any family, we can only use what is in our budget.

D4.1.1 Environmental Policy

It is the policy of the Diocesan Parsonages and Property Committee that the Diocesan Surveyors include an assessment of basic environmental issues regarding all properties at their Quinquennial inspection. This should include observations regarding: a. Level of loft insulation to ensure that all properties are insulated to current standards set by Building Regulations. b. Condition of windows – in particular noting any property that would benefit from replacement windows or installation of secondary glazing. c. Age and condition of central heating boiler and efficiency of heating system. A similar assessment will also be undertaken at any Vacancy inspection. The Committee has as its goal, wherever appropriate and possible within budgetary constraints, to provide replacement double glazed windows under the Marshalls’ Charity grant scheme. The Committee’s policy is that any central heating boiler which reaches the end of its useful life will be replaced with an energy-efficient alternative. Where budgetary constraints allow, thermostatically controlled radiators should be provided. The Committee recognises the importance of continually monitoring and responding to the emergence of new technology in this field. The Committee also recognises that it has a role to play in supporting and encouraging occupants of properties to employ other environmentally friendly practices such as the use of low energy light bulbs and energy efficient appliances and will therefore undertake to explore options for “bulk purchase” schemes where appropriate.

D4.1.3 Tree Inspection Policy

It is the policy of the Diocesan Parsonages and Property Committee that the Diocesan Surveyors include an assessment of the condition of trees in the gardens of all properties at their Quinquennial inspection. Any trees that give cause for concern should be noted and the approval of the Committee for the employment of a qualified tree surgeon sought as part of the Quinquennial works. A similar assessment will also be undertaken at any Vacancy inspection. The Committee does, however, wish to stress the responsibility of occupants of properties to ensure that the Secretary is informed immediately of any trees which give cause for concern in the interim period between inspections in order that appropriate remedial action can be instigated.


The DPPC: Receives the Surveyor’s inspection report, and the list of dilapidations (of which you will receive a copy). The Surveyor also obtains estimates for the work and, in this respect, it is helpful if he is kept advised of the names of any local tradesmen whose work is known to be reliable and whose prices are competitive. Considers the Surveyor’s report and estimates and if acceptable, authorises the Surveyor to put the work in hand. Decides the amount of work to be done and how it will be financed. The Surveyor is then authorised to put the work in hand and you are asked to co-operate with him in this. In some circumstances or if funds are not available, the DPPC may have to reduce the

amount of work to be done, but you would of course be consulted should this become necessary. Some work will be contracted out to builders and other skilled people. Some will be undertaken by the Parsonages Maintenance Staff themselves. You and the parish: Instructions to the Contractor are normally only given by the Surveyor after authorisation from the DPPC. Please do not instruct the Contractor to carry out any additional work. If you do the board may ask you to pay any additional costs. In addition to these vacancy or quinquennial repairs, other repairs will be required occasionally, (loose tiles, plumbing, damp walls, evidence of dry rot, faulty wiring etc.) which, if neglected, would eventually lead to much heavier expense. In such cases the Property Administrator should be informed as soon as possible of the problem, so that the surveyor and the board can know what needs to be done. For very small repairs, such as a broken window, you are asked to organise the work yourself. The Property Administrator will help you with names of recognised tradesmen, if the Property maintenance worker cannot do this himself. If you intend to ask the DPPC for reimbursement you must inform the Property Administrator prior to a contractor being employed to undertake the works. The DPPC are unable to reimburse invoices, other than those for exceptional emergency works, which are presented without its prior consultation and consent. Please try to avoid calling in a firm to deal with small jobs like putting a new washer on a normal tap, which can easily be tackled by most adults for a few pence, rather than many pounds. However, if you know your DIY skills are limited, please ask the Property Administrator for help! If there is a competent person in the Congregation, why not see if they can help with small repairs? Franchise operatives (DynoRod etc) are generally very expensive and should only be called out as a last emergency option.


A great deal of work has already been done to improve the standard of parsonage houses. Some very large houses have been sold, some have been sub-divided and in many others improvements have been made to kitchens, heating and hot water supplies; such changes have made the houses more comfortable and easier to run. The cost of these projects has been largely met by the Board with the funds supplied by the Church Commissioners. However, these funds ceased at the end of 1996. In a number of cases the parish and/or charitable organisations have also contributed and, occasionally, loans have also been arranged by the DPPC with the Church Commissioners. The Board is responsible to the Diocesan Synod, through the Diocesan Board of Finance. The more work we do, the more we need to draw from the Quota. The Diocese of Portsmouth does not have large historic financial endowments to help pay for properties. What we spend on repairs and improvements comes from the Quota. If, after you have been in your house for sufficient time to be able to judge, you feel the need for some further modification or addition that would make a real difference to the working of the house, both for you and your successors, you should be in touch with the Property Administrator outlining your proposals. This applies even if you intend to meet the cost of any improvement work by private means; the purpose being to ensure that the

work is done to an acceptable standard and under the supervision of the Surveyor. Alteration or additions to the electrical installation are only to be carried out with the consent of the Committee and under the supervision of its Surveyors.


The parsonages Board employs a maintenance worker to help with the day to day repair of properties in the Board’s care on the mainland. He is only available for work connected with parsonages and their grounds. He works to a schedule drawn up by the Property Administrator, which is priority driven by the urgency of the works needed – not on a first come, first served basis. If you require his services, you must first contact the parsonages department. He will only undertake work that he has been instructed to carry out after the Property Administrator has consulted you. Please do not embarrass him, or yourselves, by asking him to do other jobs “just whilst you’re here…”. If you have more than one job that needs doing, they should be notified at the same time, so we can keep an accurate check on what work needs to be, and has been done. Remember, we try to act as quickly as possible to emergency situations – so just like any other contractor, jobs might have to be switched around at short notice. Wherever possible, we will aim to keep disruption to a minimum.


If you have a serious and urgent problem or if an emergency occurs: IN OFFICE HOURS Contact the Property Administrator or the Deputy Diocesan Secretary. They have a list of approved contractors who will be able to help you. OUTSIDE OFFICE HOURS Ask yourself if it can wait. If it cannot and is urgent because more damage would result or there would be an immediate threat to life or property, then exercise caution and use a recognised contractor. BE SURE TO OBTAIN AN INVOICE OR RECEIPT FOR ANY WORK THAT HAS BEEN DONE. Is there anyone in the parish who has the expertise or experience to help? Real urgent problems are thankfully few and far between. Please do not cause difficulty by employing contractors for work that could not reasonably have waited. Abuse of the system, either leaves the board with less money for maintenance, or occupants who find are out of pocket. Please ensure that you inform the Property Administrator of any out of hours emergency call outs, particularly if they involve the Police or may result in an insurance claim.


It may be helpful to use the following list, as a way of identifying problems, and some simple bits of routine maintenance, that any householder is used to. It is not an exhaustive list, but might be a basis for a discussion between you and the PCC.


Look at the trees in your garden for defects - Spring and after high winds and gales Check the central heating header tank is full and the ball valve free to move. Arrange through the Property Administrator for the central heating boiler to be serviced under the Diocesan service contract. Ensure insulation in the roof space has not been disturbed and pipe lagging is in place Autumn. Clear rainwater disposal system - Autumn. Put the property maintenance on the PCC agenda.


Walk round the house during or after heavy rain to check that rainwater is not overspilling or running down the walls from defective gutters or blocked downpipes. Check the electrical plugs on your appliances are safe (see Note 2). Clean out extractor fans. Kill weeds in driveway and if applicable rake gravel from sides and middle into wheel tracks. Oil hinges and stays to doors and windows.


Keep rainwater and kitchen gully gratings free of leaves and other debris. Look at roofs for defective or missing slates or tiles. Switch on central heating circulator for a few minutes once a week in the summer months. Radiator valves must be open for this to be effective. Check for leaks on toilets, overflows, flushpipes, etc.


Wipe up condensation from window sills in winter. Scrub with a solution of household bleach any mould on window joinery or walls. Tighten loose screws on hinges, locks, latches and other fittings before damage occurs, this also includes all doors and cupboards in the property. Beware frost damage while away from home

D8. A TO Z

ADVICE Please remember that, in all the above matters, the Archdeacons, the Property Administrator, the Surveyors and the Deanery Representatives elected to the DPPC are

always available to give advice. ALARM SYSTEMS The Committee will consider grants towards the cost of providing an intruder alarm system. Whilst in exceptional circumstances the cost will be met in full, on most occasions the Committee would look to the Occupant or PCC to meet some of the cost. The ongoing maintenance contract will be the liability of the PCC or the Occupant. COOKERS You are responsible for supplying and maintaining your cooker. If you occupied your present house prior to 28 May 2002 any freestanding cooker (previously supplied by the DPPC) is now your property. Built-in cookers, hobs and ranges remain the property of the Diocesan Board of Finance and should be left in the house. Please ensure in such cases that the cooker is left in a condition, which makes it immediately useable, by your successor. You are responsible for its maintenance (there may in some cases be a warranty). If a built-in cooker needs replacing the DPPC will arrange for the kitchen to be suitably adapted to allow you to purchase a free standing cooker. This now reflects standard policy across most Diocese of the Church of England. DECORATIONS A reminder that you and the parish are responsible for the interior decorations of your house. Some occupants “Do it Themselves” or with parish help. Whatever method you adopt the DPPC trusts that you will hand the house over in good order. Please negotiate the colour schemes with your PCC. If you live in a house for which there is no PCC responsibility, because you have a Diocesan post, and you have painted the walls in bold colours you should return them to pale neutral shades before you vacate. In any instance, the parish should be responsible for the decoration of one room per year in the property. The DPPC is prepared to consider applications for assistance towards the cost of redecorating only difficult spaces e.g. halls, stairways and landings and very high ceilings. Each application is considered on merit but priority will normally be given to such areas where no decorative work has been done for at least 8 - 10 years. Applications, giving details of the work, should be addressed to the Property Administrator. When a vacancy occurs, Churchwardens and PCCs should asses the need for any interior redecoration. Small grants may, in extraordinary circumstances, be available from the DPPC towards the cost of the materials. DOUBLE GLAZING This is normally provided in the specifications for new houses. In existing houses it is only considered when windows are being replaced or in the case of north facing studies or where noise is a factor. ELECTRICAL ITEMS Problems have been experienced with overheating and consequent damage to electric

socket outlets. This may be due to the use of poor quality plugs on high consumption appliances. Please check older appliances and use appropriate fuses. FIRE EXTINGUISHERS It is recommended that these should be provided but at the expense of the occupant or the PCC. GARDENS & TREES You are responsible for the upkeep of the garden, including minor repairs and routine timber treatment of boundary fencing. Please look at the sizeable forest trees in the garden and report to the Property Administrator any that are considered to call for professional advice. Particular attention should be paid to those trees that could fall onto the highway, neighbour’s property or onto buildings on your own land. The pruning, lopping and removal of saplings, shrubs and fruit trees should be within the capabilities of most occupants in keeping the grounds tidy. You should also ensure that you do not plant any trees too close to the house – if you are intending to plant trees that will grow to a significant size you should seek advice from the DPPC prior to any planting. GAS FIRES The DPPC is only responsible for a suitable central heating system; it is not responsible for gas/electric fires. If you wish to add a fire you will be responsible for its installation and maintenance. Where a gas fire is already installed it will be serviced until such time as it requires removal. Gas fires will be removed as a matter of course during a vacancy. Whilst the DPPC is responsible for the structure of the chimney and fire place if you wish to have an open fire you will be responsible for supplying the appropriate fittings such as a grate, and making sure that the chimney is swept. Portable Gas fires should only be used with extreme care. HEATING Although an immersion heater is provided in most houses, it is far more economical to make use of the central heating boiler to supply hot water. In addition undue use of immersion heaters can cause scale level to build up in tanks, resulting in reduced efficiency. Inspect the system regularly for leaking cylinder joints and radiator valves which, left unattended, can lead to extensive damage to floors and outbreaks of dry rot. Scale will be kept to a minimum if the boiler temperature is not kept above 60° C (140° F) Efficient use of the programmer will reduce heating bills. INSULATION Cavity Wall Insulation Whilst this is included in the specifications for new houses, in existing buildings it will only be considered if the site is exposed or where excessive noise is a factor. Roof Insulation A minimum thickness of 4” is recommended, water tanks and exposed pipes in the roof space must be lagged. If this is not the case please advise the Property Administrator.

Draught Proof Stripping Doors and Windows It is claimed that this relatively inexpensive treatment can result in up to a 40% saving in fuel consumption; far more effective than any combination of (a) to (c) above. INSURANCE The DPPC: The house itself is included in Houseowners (Buildings) Block Policies covering all parsonage houses and DBF properties in the Diocese, so long as it is used exclusively as a parsonage house. Please notify the Property Administrator as soon as possible of any incident likely to result in an insurance claim under this policy. The Parish: The premium is included in the annual quota levied on the parish and paid by the PCC. If any part of the house is let, or used on a regular basis for parish activities, this must be reported to the Property Administrator who will notify the Insurance Company. Any additional premium required for these activities will be the responsibility of you or the Parish. It is of the utmost importance that all incidents and occurrences which may be the subject of an insurance claim are reported to the Property Administrator without delay. You: the insurance of contents is your own responsibility and no cover is provided under the Diocesan Block Policies. Should you decide to take in paying guests you should ascertain through your Insurance Company whether, and to what extent, additional insurance is required. This is additional to the requirement to notify the Property Administrator concerning the risks associated with use of the building for this purpose. LETTING OF PARSONAGE HOUSES In the light of previous experience, the letting of rooms, other than for short periods, is to be strongly discouraged and certainly no letting should be arranged without consultation with the Property Administrator and Diocesan Registrar. The Rent Acts provide comprehensive protection to residential tenants and unless specific reference is made in any Agreement to special provisions contained in these Acts relating to the letting of Parsonage Houses (or any part thereof) it may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to regain possession. The Board may let the property in a vacancy. This is a rare, but valuable way in which we can increase our income to help pay for works. PARISH ACTIVITIES AND USE OF ROOMS Your study is NOT the parish centre/office. It is part of your home and you should never feel guilty in making this clear to the parish. The publication, ‘Today’s Parsonage’, produced by the Church Commissioners, emphasises that, whilst one living room should be sufficiently large to enable the parson to offer hospitality to parishioners, or to hold small meetings, it should not be regarded as a substitute for a proper parish meeting room. Also use by the parish of the property, as a storage facility is not recommended. This use

leads to security risks negates our insurance cover, further there have been cases where the Diocese has expended considerable sums to remove such rubbish. SECURITY LIGHTS The Committee is prepared to consider applications for the provision of outside security lights and, in most cases, will be prepared to meet half of the cost leaving it to the occupant and/or the PCC to find the balance. SURVEYORS The Parsonages Board employs surveyors for the purpose of Quinquennial and Vacancy Inspections and for such works as the Board determines are necessary. The Surveyors cannot authorise works without the Board’s permission. For mainland enquiries the Surveyor should not be the first port of call – these should be made to the Parsonages Property Administrator. he surveyors should be allowed full access to property, gardens and outbuildings when they have arranged, in advance, an inspection visit. Please make sure that they are able to have such access, and if needed, a ladder is available. SHOWERS The Committee’s policy is to provide a shower room or a shower over the bath in all new houses and, as far as funds permit, to provide help towards this in existing houses. [ You should keep a careful watch for leakage that could cause damage to the property] Do-it-yourself installations are not permitted. SMOKE ALARMS These are provided in all new houses and the Committee will provide grants to meet the cost of installing two smoke alarms in existing houses. Applications for grants should be made to the Property Administrator. Batteries for smoke alarms should be changed at least once a year. You should also vacuum the smoke alarm at least twice a year to ensure the detector is not blocked with dust. TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT VACATION OF THE PROPERTY Extensive damage can result from bursting pipes both to the structure and to the contents of a house. If you go away during winter months, if only for a few days, leave your heating on and/or arrange for a responsible person to look after the house. If you are on holiday, or sabbatical, it may be useful to ask a churchwarden, member of the congregation or neighbour to keep an eye on your house. If a colleague can check on post and/or deliveries this can also deter those who might see a potential for crime. If you are vacating, please notify the Property Administrator of the date of leaving and of the arrangements made for its protection and security during the vacancy If by any chance frost damage does occur while the property is left vacant it is essential that the Property Administrator is advised of the extent of the damage and how it occurred. This information will be required in forwarding an insurance claim. The Insurers may refuse to accept a claim if due care has not been exercised.


Property Manager

Sherry Sherrington Property 1st Floor Peninsular House Wharf Road Portsmouth Tel: 023 9289 9661 Fax: 023 9289 9651 Email: Head of Property Paul Tizzard Deputy Diocesan Secretary 1st Floor Peninsular House Wharf Road Portsmouth Tel:023 9289 9664 Fax: 023 9289 9651 Email: