Many churches offer their premises for hire to outside groups and organisations.
Concerts, keep-fit classes, youth clubs, business meetings - even kick-boxing classes and skateboarder drop-in centres were just some of the examples of how churches and church halls are being used today. In addition to helping the church to reach out into the local community, this can generate a useful source of income.
One question we’re often asked at Ecclesiastical concerns the insurance impact of hiring out church property. So, what do churches need to consider when hiring out church premises to outside organisations?
Whenever the premises are hired, a formal booking agreement - that sets out the conditions of hire - should be agreed and signed. As this is a legal document, it should be drawn up following consultation with the church’s legal advisers.
It’s very important that the premises are safe for the use intended eg will it be used for a one-off concert, a weekly youth club or a monthly business meeting? This should form part of the church’s health and safety policy.
The public liability (third party) insurance under our Parishguard policy provides an indemnity to the PCC as property owners if held legally liable for accidental bodily injury to members of the public, or accidental damage to their property while the premises are being hired.
This insurance, however, doesn’t extend to indemnify any outside groups hiring the premises.
With the previous comments in mind, the PCC should obtain written confirmation from any hirers that they have public liability cover for their activities while the church premises are being hired.
Most organisations that operate on a regular basis are likely to have insurance cover and any individuals hiring the premises for a private function should check with their household insurers to ensure that the public liability cover would extend to include the organising of such an event.
The hiring of church premises to children’s groups is a common scenario for many churches and the PCC should refer to the Diocesan Safeguarding Guidelines, and/or the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, for specific advice and guidance on this matter.
We do, however, consider it good practice for the PCC to obtain written confirmation from any such group that it has a safeguarding policy and that it uses the Disclosure and Barring Service.