Occupation may be covered partly by the Trust Deed. Generally a pastor will occupy rent free. A caretaker may also occupy rent free. However if rent is to be paid by the caretaker there is a limit to the amount which can be charged. See www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-accommodation
There are some exceptions to the general rule. Voluntary workers are covered under Section 44 of the National Minimum Wage Act 1999. Such workers employed by charities etc. are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) provided certain conditions are met including the provision of no pay or benefits other than reasonable accommodation. We have had advice in one case that the NMW was not payable but trustees/church officers do need to take care and obtain appropriate advice according to their particular situation.
A chapel house is an asset of the chapel and trustees/church officers have a duty as good stewards to ensure it is properly maintained. Where a chapel house is not required for use by pastor or caretaker it can be let. There are a number of points which need to be addressed including:
- Whilst the income from the letting will be (generally) for the benefit of the chapel and the church officers should be involved, no chapel house should be let without the trustees, or their appointed professional, approving the terms. Any direction in the Trust Deed relating to the use of the property must be complied with.
- Advice should be taken from a person with the requisite ability and practical experience, such as a solicitor and a property letting agent, regarding the terms of the lease. The law requires trustees to obtain the terms which are the best that can reasonably be obtained for the charity. Note it does not say “best price” but “best terms” which is for the trustees to judge.
- The tenancy should not give long term rights to the occupier which will de-value the chapel house. The usual form of tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy which has a minimum term of six months.
- The terms of occupancy will need to include special provisions relating to Sundays to ensure, for example, there is no noise or disturbance to chapel services.
- The letting agent will be able to advise on all management and compliance aspects such as:
- Rent deposits
- Property owners insurance
- Standard of maintenance
- Sourcing suitable and reliable tenants
- Energy Performance Certificates
- Gas Safety, annual check
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors
- Electrical Safety Checks
- Furniture and Furnishings
- Risk assessment on property hazards
There is much information on the internet about letting property, including at: https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-agreements-a-guide-for-landlords
See also Conflicts of Interest.