Your Parsonage House
Through the Estates Department, the Diocesan Board of Finance is responsible for the provision, maintenance and insurance of houses for most parochial clergy. This page is primarily for occupants of parsonage houses, team vicarages and houses owned by the Diocesan Board of Finance, but it should also be useful for churchwardens looking after vacant houses.
A comprehensive source of information is the Clergy Housing Handbook , but some additional guidance is given here:
Emergency repairs are those which need dealing with either immediately (e.g. gas escapes or serious water leaks) or within 48 hours, such as blocked drains and boiler failure. During office hours please contact the Estates Department for advice before any work is carried out:
Office Hours Contact: Estates Department or 01727 854532
Out of Office Hours Contact: Please contact a local contractor directly to ensure that the problem is quickly resolved, reducing risk to people and property.
Our usual contractors for common problems are:
|Service||Archdeaconry||Emergency Out of Hours Contact|
Steve 07802 331722
|Electrician||Hertford||A & H Ross
Tony 07770 788019
|Electrician||St Albans||S M Row Electrical Engineer Ltd
Steve 07836 252567
|Drains||All||PowerRod (Home Counties) Ltd
Sean Rumsey 01442 827328
|Plumbing and heating||All||Safesure Plumbing & Heating Ltd
Tom or Ollie 07850 462932
All emails concerning repairs should have the benefice name, your name, and the problem in the subject line please.
Non-urgent day-to-day repairs which do not need immediate attention should be dealt with only after discussion with the Estates Department.
Non-Urgent Repairs Contact: Estates Department or 01727 854532
The Property Committee is grateful for any minor repairs which an occupant can carry out on a DIY basis and the cost of materials will be reimbursed if necessary. Otherwise the Estates Department will arrange for the repair to be carried out or, on occasion, authorise an occupant to use a local contractor. Unless these procedures are followed, the Property Committee cannot guarantee that the expenditure will be reimbursed.
Council Tax is paid by the St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance for stipendiary clergy and House for Duty clergy living in clergy houses; arrangements are different for clergy living in their own houses. The Estates Department needs to know the dates of movements into clergy houses and also the dates of moving out for outgoing clergy; please email the Estates Department with details.
There is a 25% Council Tax discount for houses occupied by a single adult, so it is important that the Estates Department is told how many adults (companions or relatives over the age of 18) if any are living in a house in addition to the clergy person. If the clergy person has a lodger the Estates Secretary should be informed. It is important that the Estates Department is notified of any changes in occupation. Councils occasionally ask for confirmation that houses still have only one adult occupant where the discount applies. If the occupant does not respond the discount is removed, so it is important to reply.
The Diocese insures the buildings as part of a block insurance policy. Clergy are responsible for the insurance of the contents.
Although the responsibility for internal decorations rests with the occupants, we recognise that it can be quite expensive to decorate even one or two rooms per year on a rolling basis. For this reason the Diocesan Board of Finance has agreed to provide grants towards the cost of decorating materials for internal decorations, up to a maximum of £250 for work done in 2021.
Although the deadline for 2021 grant applications has passed, further applications will be considered on an ‘ad hoc’ basis during the year. Please use the Internal Decorations Grant Form to give us details of the internal decorations you are proposing to carry out, together with an approximate estimate of the cost of materials.
Send the completed form to the Estates Department.
If approved, costs of materials will be reimbursed on production of appropriate receipts/invoices.
The Diocesan Board of Finance’s current policy is to carry out a full electrical test of the fixed wiring every ten years, which often coincides with alternate quinquennial inspections. This may sometimes be brought forward, for instance if other major work is being carried out which requires electrical alterations.
The appointed electrician will phone to arrange a convenient appointment for the inspection and test at the house. Their time on site will vary depending how many circuits there are to test, but for a typical parsonage this is likely to take up to half a day.
The electrician will need access to all rooms, as well as the loft and garage. Clear access will be needed to the consumer unit (fuse board) and to every power point. If there are additional power points hidden behind heavy furniture or appliances which cannot readily be moved, their presence should be brought to the electrician’s notice. A representative sample number of socket outlet face plates and light switch face plates will be taken off and re-fitted.
Following the inspection the electrician will produce a Domestic Electrical Installation Inspection Report which is sent to the Estates Department. This records the electrician’s test results and observations. It will classify each observation either ‘Code 1 – Danger Present’, ‘Code 2 – Potentially dangerous’, ‘FI – Further Investigation Required’ or ‘Code 3 – Improvement recommended’. Code 1 and code 2 items will need addressing to achieve a clean bill of health and will require a follow-up visit by the electrician. Code 3 items are not necessarily dangerous but are best practice improvements to bring the installation in line with the latest wiring standards, which are frequently updated.
Gas Safety Checks
The Diocese is required by law to service gas boilers and other gas appliances in parsonage houses. We have a contract which provides for this work to be undertaken and a gas safety certificate issued annually. The contractor is Safesure and they will make contact when the annual check is due, to arrange a time to carry out this work. Occupants are obliged to allow access to enable this and the regular scheduled inspections of the property to take place.
Water bills for incumbents are paid for and dealt with by the Finance Department of St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance. We advise clergy not to have a meter installed where there isn’t one in place already. Water rates for curates are paid by their parishes.
The Diocese is charged with having all parsonages inspected every five years. The inspection is carried out during office hours by the Diocesan Surveyor. Following the inspection, all repairs found necessary will be carried out at Diocesan expense.
The priority of the Property Committee is the safety, security and welfare of those living in the clergy housing. It will maintain the structure and exterior of the parsonage house including doors, windows, drains, gutters and external pipes, and keep in repair all walls, fences, gates, drives and drains. It will keep in repair and proper working order the supply of water, gas and electricity and also basins, sinks, baths, toilets and heating.
Following the inspection, the surveyor will issue a written report and schedule of repairs. Quotes will be obtained and the occupants’ co-operation in allowing the surveyor and contractors into the house is required. Only work authorised on the schedule will be carried out. Should any additional work be found necessary, this must be discussed and authorised by the Estates Secretary or Property Committee.
Work may be requested that is considered to be an improvement. Improvement work is subject to the availability of funds and the Committee being satisfied that the works are justified. The parish/incumbent is not expected to contribute to the costs of the improvement works. Any improvement put in hand without prior approval of the Committee will not be refunded. Clergy have a duty to take proper care of the house, equivalent to that of a tenant, and to use the premises in a proper manner.