Diocesan property

Below you'll find helpful guidance on different aspects of diocesan property management.

If you're unsure of the ownership of a property, please contact the Property Department on 01865 208 230 or via email.

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Living in a clergy house - FAQs

Internal housing
What decorating can I do?
The house is your home and like any home you can carry out any internal decorating you wish.

However, at the same time we would remind you that the house will also be occupied by your successors in office. Using wallpaper or very strong coloured paints will make redecoration more difficult and expensive for clergy coming to the house after you.

We recommend that any decorating you carry out accommodates a scheme using solely pastel colours. We would be grateful if you kept all the ceilings in a white matt finish and any gloss work in your house to brilliant white paint.

You are not permitted to apply any textured paint finishes to ceilings and walls. We will not sanction painting your kitchen units or utility room units.

Clergy will be expected to carry out any further decorating required and a £500 decoration grant is offered to you between each quinquennial survey to carry this out and on production of receipts the Diocese can reimburse you.

What type of floor finishes will I need to provide myself?

The Buildings Committee is unable to provide floor finishes to rooms other than “wet areas” (kitchen, utility room, cloakroom, etc.). See also the section “Moving into Your Home”.

We would request that you do not lay materials (other than carpet) without first discussing the matter with the Diocesan Surveyor.

We would recommend that non wool carpets are fitted within the property, as this will help future occupants with allergies and potential carpet moth infestation.

Am I allowed to change wall tiles, or to paint them with a proprietary paint?

It may be that you do not like the style or colour of wall tiles within your house. Our current policy is to provide wall tiles which are comparatively neutral. Wall tiles which are in a good condition may not be replaced or painted.

Who provides curtains and blinds in my home?

All curtains and blinds are your own responsibility. Existing blinds will not be replaced from the Diocesan budget. We do not provide replacement specialist blinds to roof lights.

Will the Diocese reimburse me a proportion of the cost of the curtains and/or blinds when I leave?

The Diocese will not reimburse you the cost of curtains and/or blinds. If you wish to leave them when you move from the property, then they might benefit the next occupant of the property. Please ensure they are cleaned.

What pets can I have? Can I fit a cat flap?
What pets am I permitted to keep?

The Buildings Committee requests that a maximum of two cats and two dogs are permitted to be kept in your house at any one time.

The Buildings Committee requests that any pets, other than domestic cats and dogs, are kept outside at all times. Prior agreement of the Buildings Committee is required if it is your intention to keep animals other than the permitted cats and dogs.

It is becoming more common that when the ODBF purchases new property, in some instances, they are required to enter into covenants which specifically prevent the keeping of some animals as pets at the property, i.e. chickens, ducks, etc., or on occasion, a restriction on the number of cats and dogs that can be kept.

It is necessary to obtain permission from DEFRA before keeping certain animals at a domestic residence, i.e. pigs, sheep, goats. Where appropriate, you will need to provide suitable consent from the requisite authority. Before you purchase or introduce any such animals to the house, please confirm with the Diocesan offices whether any such restrictions/covenants exist at your home.

On vacation of the property, you will be responsible for removing associated structures used for retaining pets/domesticated animals and making good any damage to the garden.

Please be aware that pet foodstuffs and bedding attracts rats, pests and other vermin. Damage caused to Diocesan property as a result of vermin infestation will not be funded from the Diocesan budget.

Please remember, any damage caused by your pets to your home or garden will be paid for by you. (Any work must be carried out by a contractor approved by the Diocesan Office.)

Am I able to have a cat or dog flap fixed through one of the external doors?

Where permitted, cat and dog flaps may be fitted through external doors only. It is the responsibility of the clergy to pay for both the cost of the cat/dog flap, and the cost of installing such a flap within the external door.

We will also require that you pay for the cost of the future reinstatement of the door panel/door structure in advance of the work being carried out. Any work must be carried out by a contractor approved by the Diocesan Offices.

As with any other structural alteration to the house, no cat/dog flap should be installed without the written prior consent of the Diocesan Surveyor.

What kitchen appliances are provided and who is responsible? Can I make changes?

The diocese does not provide or maintain any kitchen equipment (“White Goods” or cookers) within its houses.

When you move into your home the diocese will offer you a cooker grant of up to £300 or half the cost depending on the lesser sum on production of receipts which are to be sent to the Diocesan Offices for reimbursement. This grant is for the cooker only and not for connection, extended guarantees etc. The cooker is yours and as and when you leave, it must be removed. No further grants are offered if the cooker goes wrong.

Where a property has built in kitchen equipment, the following policy has been adopted:

i) The diocese will remove the appliances as and when they go wrong leaving a 600mm sized opening to accommodate your own appliances, supplied by yourself.

We have a cooker that is bigger than the standard 600mm wide cooker, can the kitchen be altered to accommodate this?

The diocese has no objection for the kitchen being altered to accommodate the bigger cooker but at no cost to the Diocese and permission will need to be sort from the Diocesan Surveyor prior to any works starting.

The works usually includes removing base units, wall units, extractor fan, alter the worktop to the new width required, extending the tiling behind the new cooker space down to floor level, new flooring as there will be a bigger cooker opening, new extractor fan for the new opening, possible relocation of electric sockets and/or gas points. As and when you move you will have to pay for the reinstatement of the opening to a 600mm wide opening. Any work must be carried out by a contractor approved by the Diocesan Office.

Who is responsible for built-in kitchen appliances?

The diocese are not responsible for built-in kitchen appliances, servicing, or replacement, and if they require replacing this would be the responsibly of the occupant.

Am I able to remove or alter fixtures and fittings? Plus information on electrics, alarms and broadband.

Am I able to remove or alter any fixtures and fittings in my home? A. All fixtures and fittings included in your home are part of the fabric of the parsonage. If you would like to alter or replace any these items, please contact the Diocesan Surveyor before attempting any alterations. Please also refer to Kitchen Appliances and Boilers and Heating Systems. Electrical Wiring and Equipment.

What is the policy regarding electrical equipment and wiring within a parsonage house?

All electrically operated equipment owned by yourself is your responsibility. Its general safety and adequacy should be checked on a regular basis. It is important to note that faulty appliances can seriously affect residual current devices (the small switches in the consumer unit), the result of which will mean that your electricity supply will be cut.

Your home’s electrical circuits are tested to NICEIC standards at the time of the quinquennial inspection (every 5 years). Where general electrical routine problems are encountered suggesting further investigation, an additional test is carried out at that time. The recommendations and standards of the IEE have been adopted.

It is essential to remember that under no circumstances should the electrical wiring or its associated equipment (switches, power sockets, ceiling roses etc.), be altered or tampered with by yourself, members of your family, or any unauthorised person. Under new legislation such work would be illegal.

It is important to remember that the above requirements include electrical equipment in gardens.

What do I do if I lose electrical power to the property?
  1. Check with neighbours to see if they have lost electricity as it might be a power cut and then contact your electricity supplier to report the loss of power.
  2. Check the fuse board to see if any of the circuits have tripped and reset if possible. If not possible unplug all appliances, lights etc from the property and see if the trip will reset. In quite a few cases the problem is with an appliance and if unplugged it allows the trip to be reset and the defective appliance to be identified.

If you still are unable to restore power to a circuit or the property, please contact the Diocesan office.

If it turns out the power failure is down to an appliance you own, the Diocese will invoice you for the callout and repair.

Does the Oxford Diocese provide security alarm systems for new members of Clergy?

If you want to submit a request for an alarm system, we provide a bells only service at no cost to you. We do ask that you confirm in writing that you will use the alarm. There will be paperwork to be completed that will be provided by the alarm company so they have a record of you living at the property. Any repairs due to fault and not misuse will be covered by the ODBF.

All other costs will be the responsibility of the occupant. If it turns out that you do not use the alarm, please contact the Diocesan offices and the contract will be cancelled. Telephones and Broadband

Who pays for installation of telephone & Broadband and ongoing line rentals?

These fall to you to contact a telephone supplier and arrange for a telephone line/number to be installed to the property. If you feel that you require additional telephone sockets within your house (over and above those already installed), the cost of supply of the additional wiring and equipment must be met by yourself. However, prior to any authorisation, it is necessary to agree any work with the Diocesan Surveyor.

Recent changes in the regulations relating to competitive practices in the telephone industry now mean that BT is unable to retain telephone numbers on residential accounts during vacancies.

Who pays for my bills and regular services?
Who pays for my Council Tax & Water Rates?
The Diocesan budget meets the annual council tax and water charges at your house.
Council Tax and Water companies will send a “welcome to your new home” letter asking you to set up your account with them. Please be aware that this action must be done by the Property team at Church House, therefore we ask you not to reply to this correspondence and forward it to a member of the team.
Who pays for the electric, gas and/or oil to the property?
These costs will fall to yourself whilst you are occupying the property and you will need to open accounts in your name when you move in. When considering your energy supplier, we would ask that you research green energy tariff providers, details of which you will find on the internet.
When vacating the property, we would ask you to close your relevant account and name the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, Church House, Langford Locks, Kidlington, OX5 1GF, as the new account holder.
Who pays for sweeping my chimneys?
The cost of sweeping a flue is the responsibility of clergy. It is important to regularly sweep flues in order to ensure that there are no blockages (e.g. from bird’s nests, etc.) following the spring/summer period. Further, you should use competent contractors, possibly someone with a recommendation from residents within your parish.
Can we fit a multi fuel/wood burning stove?
The Diocese are discouraging the use of multi fuel/wood burning stove, in line with the Diocese Carbon Neutral Programme. Permission from the Diocese will need to be obtained before any works are carried out to install a multi fuel/wood burning stove. All works will need to meet with the current building regulations and a HETAS certificate is issued on completion and sent to the Diocese for their records. Visit hetas.co.uk/ecodesign.
Unfortunately, the Diocese cannot contribute towards the cost of a multi fuel/wood burning stove. When you leave the property the fire place needs to be reinstated to its original layout or the multi fuel/wood burning stove is left insitu at no cost to the Diocese.
What can I store within the roof?
We try to discourage storage within the roof void for two significant reasons.
Firstly, roofs are designed to receive light loads, mainly for access or properly designed water tank platforms. This is particularly significant where the house is a more modern structure where prefabricated roof trusses have been used. If heavy goods are stored (or lighter ones in high piles), then significant damage to ceilings (and even the roof structure itself ) can occur.
Secondly, with modern levels of roof insulation (up to 300mm) it is necessary to maintain the same thickness of insulant over the whole of the roof void. By allowing storage over the insulant, you are significantly decreasing its effectiveness and ensuring that your heating bills are higher than necessary.
Who is responsible for accidental damage to glass in windows and doors?
Damage to windows and doors is covered under the Board’s block buildings insurance policy.
Occupiers will be asked to meet the “excess” of any claim to replace broken glass. The current excess on the policy is £250. This means that you will be expected to pay for the full cost of any breakage up to £250. If, however, the cost to replace the damaged glass is less than £250 you are expected to pay for the broken glass in full.
However, you will not be expected to pay for broken seals on double glazed units or structural related damage.

External housing
Does the Diocese provide TV aerials?
The Diocese is not responsible for the repair and/or replacement of TV aerials this would be a cost that you would have to meet.

If it is your intention to install additional television sockets within your home, it will be necessary for you to obtain the prior consent of the Diocesan Surveyor.

Many families enjoy watching programmes delivered by satellite and cable television stations. The erection of a satellite dish is an essential part of the installation, and we would ask that the dish is placed in an unobtrusive position that will not cause structural defects, or encourage the ingress of surface water.

It should be remembered that satellite dishes often require planning permission prior to installation, particularly in Conservation Areas and where your home is a listed building.

Where a cable company’s installation is agreed, it is essential that you ensure that the cable company makes good any disturbance to a driveway, garden and wall areas. Please ensure that no cables are taken through window frames as this is the preferred option by some companies as they find it easier than drilling through masonry.

Any way-leaves will need to be agreed by the Diocesan Surveyor and will be at the cost of the occupier and any documentation will be required to contain sketch drawings identifying the line of way-leaves and the position of aerials.

These documents need to be held at the property and the Diocesan Office.

Who is responsible for external security lights?
The Diocese will provide LED external security lights, where necessary. We would ask that occupants do not undertake any external electricity works.
What do I do when my drains are blocked? Who pays for emptying our cesspool/septic tank and for cleaning the rainwater goods?
What do I do when my drains are blocked?
Over the past few years we have experienced blocked drains caused by materials other than toilet paper being flushed through the w/c - e.g. baby wipes, nappies, sanitary items, fat being poured down sink wastes. Such blockages can be severe and cause significant disruption to households whilst the problem is being remedied. Therefore, in your own interest, please ensure that only proprietary toilet tissue is used, and fat is disposed of correctly. If the Diocesan offices is requested to clear a blocked drain, then please be aware that the cost of any such work will be borne by the occupant, should the problem be one which has been caused by “misuse”.
Who do I call in the event of blocked drains, out of hours?

OPC drain services - 01235-835999

During normal office hours, please contact Church House Oxford on 01865 208200.

What do I do if the foul drains are shared with neighbours?

In 2011 sections of foul drains that are shared with neighbours became the responsibility of the local water authority. If you discover blocked drains then consult with your neighbour to see if they have the same issue and if the do please contact the local water authority to arrange for the drains to be cleared at no cost to you or the Diocese.

All water authorities have their emergency telephone numbers on their web site. If you want to know who your local water authority is then please contact the Diocese who will provide this information.

Who pays for emptying our cesspool/septic tank?

The cost of emptying cesspools rests with the Diocese. When you think that a cesspool or septic tank is becoming full, please contact the Diocesan offices, who will arrange and pay the cost of an appropriate contractor to empty the unit as soon as possible.

It is generally recommended that a septic tank/cesspool is emptied once every 12 months, although some units are capable of working well after that period. Where possible and practical, please avoid placing excessive quantities of bleach and biological detergents down the drains.

Who is responsible for cleaning out the rainwater goods on my home?

The Diocese is responsible for cleaning out the rainwater goods and will carry this out as part of the quinquennial survey. If, however, you notice that the rainwater goods are blocked, vegetation growing out of them please contact the Diocesan offices and they will arrange for them to be cleared.

Maintaining the garden
What if I am unable to cope with my garden?

It is your responsibility to maintain and control your garden. You can do this by undertaking the work yourself or paying someone to help you (please note this is a legitimate expense and can be claimed against tax).

Should you find yourself unable to deal with it on a routine basis, your Parish may be willing to give practical help or pay towards the cost of employing a gardener. Alternatively, if you are having problems in getting the matter resolved, please discuss with the Archdeacons office.

Am I provided with a garden shed?

We will not provide new sheds unless it is considered that there is a lack of adequate storage space within the house and/or garage.

Unless the existing shed structure poses a health and safety danger or the house storage facilities are considered inadequate, we will not repair “old” sheds. However, we will remove them from the parsonage grounds if they are a danger.

Am I allowed to construct a compost heap within the garden?

Compost heaps are considered a necessary part of everyday gardening and are often essential for the collection of general garden debris.

However, we would ask that you ensure that the compost is well controlled and not built against boundary fences, walls, sheds and kept free from vermin and at the end of your occupancy is removed in total and the compost site made good.

Do you provide garden fences to control and retain family pets?

We do not provide fencing to control or retain pets, nor will we be able to amend existing fencing for those purposes. If you want this work carried out we can put you in touch with approved contractors and you will have to pay for the works

What recommendations are available when planting in my garden?

The Diocese requests that you do not plant any new trees in your garden, nor any large shrubs close to the parsonage house or its out- buildings or neighbouring properties. We are very concerned about the effect of trees and shrubs on foundations, and drains.

We are also anxious that new trees planted in a parsonage garden do not become protected by local authority Tree Preservation Orders. We need to avoid the potential rising costs of tree maintenance affecting the Diocesan budgets.

Please also ensure that ivy and other creeping plants, such as Wisteria, Virginia Creeper, ivy etc. are not planted by the property and are removed from the masonry of the property.

Who is responsible for maintaining trees growing within the boundaries of the property?

Fruit trees, shrubs and “dwarf” varieties of deciduous/evergreen trees are your responsibility.

All other trees are the responsibility of the Diocese. Please ensure that growth to those plants under your control is regularly controlled and that foliage does not affect the house masonry, nor impair the free flow of air around the house or out-buildings.

Many properties are within Conservation Areas and may also have Tree Preservation Orders attached to them. Where this is the case, Local Authority consent will be required, prior to carrying out work (except in the case of an emergency). Please help us by reporting problems with trees to the Diocesan offices as soon as possible. We try and carry out a Health and Safety Duty of Care Survey on mature trees as part of the quinquennial inspection.

Please also remember that you have a duty of care to all visitors who enter your property and it is essential we collectively take all reasonable steps to ensure their safety.

If I have or want to have an electric car how do I arrange for an electric vehicle (EV) charging point to be installed?

The Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance has no objection to an EV charging point being fitted as long as you:

  • Contact the Diocesan Surveyor to request permission before any works are carried out, (we will not unreasonably withhold consent).
  • There will be no financial contribution from the Diocese for your proposed installation or removal (if you choose to do this when you move). However, you may find that your electricity provider offers an incentive package.
  • You arrange for any works to be carried out by competent contractor in accordance with the current building and NICEIC electrical regulations.
  • If there are any upgrades required to the parsonage house electrical services for the EV charging point, they would be at your cost. In the majority of cases upgrades will not be needed.
  • Copies of the installation certificates are sent to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance for our records.

Moving in & out
Initial meeting

Every effort will be made to ensure that your move is as straightforward as possible. Once you have been offered and you have accepted your new post in the Oxford Diocese you will meet the Diocesan Surveyor at your new home so that the property can be inspected, and any works can be agreed prior to your move.

Schedules of the agreed works will be sent to you and, where possible, will be carried out before you occupy the property.

What decorating will be carried out for me?

The Diocese can offer a decoration grant up to £1000 and this will be determined when you meet the Diocesan surveyor who will assess the current condition of the internal decoration. There are 2 ways in which you can claim the decoration grant:

  1. Produce receipts for materials, labour or both and the Diocese will reimburse you. Unfortunately, if we do not receive a receipt to show that the invoice has been paid in full then the Diocese cannot reimburse you; or,
  2. The Diocese can pay the decorator direct if an invoice is made out and sent to the following:

    The Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance
    Church House Oxford
    Langford Locks
    OX5 1GF

It is vital that if you arrange for the contractor to invoice the Diocese to advise them that they will not receive payment for at least 2 weeks after receipt of the invoice.

We would remind you that the house will also be occupied by your successors in office. Using wallpaper or very strong coloured paints will make redecoration more difficult and expensive for clergy coming to the house after you.

We recommend that any decorating you carry out accommodates a scheme using solely pastel colours. We would be grateful if you kept all the ceilings in a white matt finish and any gloss work in your house to brilliant white paint.

You are not permitted to apply any textured paint finishes to ceilings and walls. We will not sanction painting your kitchen units, utility room units and/or wall tiles.

Which floor coverings will be provided for me? Can I lay laminate?
The Diocese will replace the flooring in the “wet areas” (kitchen, utility room, cloakroom, etc.) if considered by the Diocesan Surveyor to be in an unacceptable condition and will be replaced with a vinyl cushion floor.

We request that you do not replace vinyl floor finishes provided by Diocese without the prior consent of the Diocesan Surveyor. However, where such floor finishes are excessively worn, we will endeavor to replace them at our cost.

Should you wish to lay laminate floors in your home, you will require the consent of the Diocesan Surveyor prior to installation. Should consent be given, it will be necessary for you to accept that you will need to remove the floor prior to your departure.

You will also need to make good, adjust items such as skirting boards and/or doors (which may need to be replaced) which are affected by the laminate at no cost to the Diocese.

What am I expected to do upon leaving my home?

Prior to leaving your home, you will be contacted by the Diocesan Surveyor who will arrange to meet with you and discuss your views about the suitability (or otherwise) of the parsonage. It would be most helpful if you were able to inform the Diocesan Surveyor of your impressions (both good and bad) of the house.

  • Please inform the Diocesan offices of the names of your utility service providers (gas and/or electric), together with your customer reference numbers.
  • You will need to carefully note your utility meter readings gas and/or electric) and inform the respective companies of your intended leaving date and of course ensure full payment of outstanding costs.
  • You will need to transfer the utility accounts from your name into the following, so the account is not terminated and causing a problem for the next occupant:

    The Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance
    Church House Oxford
    Langford Locks
    OX5 1GF
  • For heating oil, it would be most helpful if you were able to retain sufficient heating oil in the tank for the boiler to be re-fired and the heating system to be tested after you have left. To leave the tank with little oil in-situ can lead to costly repairs to the boiler fuel pump and burner.
  • During winter months, however, the central heating should be left on a minimum setting. You will be advised of the settings when you meet with the Diocesan Surveyor before you leave. Please inform the Diocesan offices if this has been done.
  • Please remove all your possessions from the house, roof voids, garage, any out-buildings and garden, e.g. children’s climbing equipment, plant pots etc. Should the Diocese have to remove items, we will look to recoup the cost from you.
  • Before or on the day of departure, you should make sure that the property and all its contents are properly cleaned, including carpets, kitchen units etc.
  • Please arrange to have your post redirected by the post office and provide us with your forwarding address.
  • During a vacancy the Diocese will arrange for the grass to be cut and hedges maintained but will not manage shrubs and borders. This is something you might ask you church wardens to organise so the garden looks maintained for your successor.
  • As we are unable to retain telephone numbers with British Telecom, you may wish to invite your PCC to retain the account themselves with an answer phone so that messages can be picked up.
  • The main front door key should be returned; all other keys are to remain in a drawer in the kitchen of the property. Please confirm who you are giving the keys to, ideally, it should be given to your Churchwarden. The Churchwarden will take on the responsibility of inspecting the property during the vacancy and for the property to be inspected once a week whilst it is empty.
Disabled adaptations

This is available for residents living in the property. After initial enquiries with Social Services and Occupational Therapists, the Diocese, will consider disabled adaptation works to the property.

Contact details
Who do I contact at the Diocesan offices to report/discuss an issue with the parsonage house?

Report any issues to Surveyors Department at Church House Oxford using following contact details:

Tony Kerry: Email | Tel: 01865 208292 (voicemail available)

Chris Mariner: Email | Tel: 01865 208232 (voicemail available)

Karen Drew: Email | Tel: 01865 208268 (voicemail available)

Download the FAQs

Page last updated: Thursday 2nd March 2023 2:54 PM
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