Find a Church  |  Vacancies  |  Documents  |  Directory  |  Safeguarding |  Contact 


Vacant Properties

General Vacancy Procedures

It is essential that the property team is contacted as soon as a move date is known.

Before leaving a parsonage house, the clergyperson should ensure that the gas, electricity and water meters are read, the telephone and other media suppliers informed and the final accounts forwarded to their new address. None of the utilities or telephone should be disconnected as they involve reconnection charges and inconvenient delays.

When vacating a parsonage, the occupant should ensure that it is left in a clean and tidy condition. All rubbish should be disposed of, cupboards emptied and cleaned, floors swept, garden tidied and grass cut.

The house keys are to be left with the churchwardens. The churchwardens should also read the meters on the first day of the vacancy and ensure that future bills are forwarded to the PCC for payment.

When the house is vacated, a member of the Property Team, along with the churchwardens will carry out an inspection to view its condition. The Area Dean and/or Chairman of the Property Committee may also attend.

During a vacancy, the churchwardens are responsible, with the assistance of the Property Department, for the security and condition of the house. 

Empty houses are vulnerable to attacks by vandals. The PCC is asked to do all it can to protect a house by ensuring all locks, bolts and other protective devices are put in operation. They are asked to keep up an appearance of habitation (e.g. having curtains at windows and lights on time switches) and advise the police of the vacancy.

The garden should be kept tidy and free from litter to avoid the appearance of being unoccupied.

The PCC should also arrange for the house to be visited, if possible, on a daily basis, but at least twice a week to check its security and to clear mail.

As a last resort the Committee will consider boarding up the property, however, this can be counter‐productive as it makes clear that the house is empty. Further advice on these matters can be obtained from the Property Team.

For more guidance, see this page Preventing crime at the Vicarage

During the vacancy the Board of Finance will reimburse the parish for a reasonable amount of gas, electricity, telephone and charges for heating and maintaining the house during the period October to March, providing that the following control settings are used:

  • Boiler thermostat set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Centigrade)
  • Room thermostat set at 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Centigrade)
  • Time clock set to operate from 02:00 to 05:00 and 20:00 to 22:00

This should only be done when it is known that the boiler is protected by a frost‐stat. If the boiler is not protected or it is expected to be a prolonged vacancy, the whole system, together with the domestic water system, must be drained and the rising main turned off.

In addition, the gas should be turned off at the meter (do not have it disconnected) and circuit breakers that are not required switched off. Please note that before relighting the boiler you should ensure that the system has been refilled and tested.


All parsonages for which the Property Department has responsibility are insured under a comprehensive policy. If a house suffers damage from thieves, vandals, storm or accident, then the Property Department are to be notified as soon as possible. It is a condition of the insurance that if the damage was malicious, the local police are to be informed, a crime number obtained, and forwarded to the Property Office. The Property Committee only insures the building, not the contents, therefore, any parish property within the vacant house should be covered by the parish insurance policy.

Financial Matters

In a vacant benefice, local fee income, which is normally paid to the incumbent (e.g. for weddings, funerals etc) is paid instead into the ‘Sequestration Account’. The Churchwardens and Area Dean are normally appointed as ‘sequestrators’ and administer the account. Guidance for sequestrators is issued from St John’s House at the beginning of a vacancy.

Once the parsonage is vacated, unfurnished and being held vacant for a minister of religion it is exempt from council tax charges and the local authority should be informed accordingly.

Once the house is vacant and unfurnished it is exempt from the payment of water rates and United Utilities should be informed accordingly.

Gas, electricity and telephone bills should be paid from the sequestration account, but these should relate only to use for maintenance of the property and not for other parish purposes.

Letting of Parsonages

No person or persons are to take up residence in a parsonage house during a vacancy without the written approval of the Property Committee. There are circumstances when it may be necessary or expedient for someone else to occupy the whole or part of a parsonage house. There are two legal alternatives to provide for this, depending on the circumstances of each individual case, but note that occupants cannot enter into agreements that run beyond the term of their occupancy.

The first alternative (where the occupant is sharing possession) is to grant a licence of occupation where the occupier is to become in effect a lodger. It is essential for this type of agreement that the occupant shares some part of the accommodation.

The second alternative is to grant a tenancy. In this case the tenant is entitled as a right to exclusive possession of either the whole of the parsonage house, or that part of it to which the tenancy relates.

Any tenancy granted should be an assured shorthold tenancy and arranged through the Diocesan Registrar, as legal notices are required to be served before the lease is entered into.

The Diocesan Surveyor can offer advice on the letting of parsonages.

The PCC pays the Council Tax for the incumbent. A 25% discount is available for single occupancy. Any lodgers will cancel this discount, and they must therefore pay the additional tax plus any rent agreed.

Please contact the Diocesan Surveyor when considering entering into any agreement, or with queries relating to Council Tax.

No persons are to take up residence in a parsonage house during a vacancy without the written approval of the MDBF Property Committee.

For more information on the letting of parsonage houses, contact the Property Team


Powered by Church Edit