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Use of Church Buildings

Your Church buildings may be used for a variety of purposes and you need to give special consideration to situations when you hire your church buildings or allow third parties to use church property.

Use as a dormitory by third parties

As Church buildings are primarily a place of worship and not generally designed for overnight stays congregations should consider the suitability of their buildings very carefully before using them for this purpose. We would recommend that you advise us in advance of any such proposals and you complete a Dormitory Questionnaire and return it to us.

 A Dormitory Questionnaire can be obtained by clicking here. We also recommend that you undertake or revisit your Fire Risk Assessment, and your Health and Safety Risk Assessment as additional risks are presented by the use of church buildings for dormitory accommodation. Advice for the creation and review of risk assessments can be obtained from the Church of Scotland website.  Please also consult the information provided regarding health and safety by the Health and Safety Executive.

Other uses of church property by third parties/non-church bodies (including letting)

It is important to note the following points if you are considering allowing a third party to use or hire your Church buildings:

  1. It's very important that the buildings you provide are safe i.e. whatever the intended use, be it youth club, toddlers group, or whatever that you ensure a suitable risk assessment has been carried out and this forms part of your health and safety policy. Information regarding these items can be found at the Health and Safety Executive web site and at the Church of Scotland web site.
  2. It is desirable that whenever the premises are hired, a formal letting agreement - that sets out the conditions of hire - should be agreed and signed. Advice and a form of contract are available from the Church of Scotland web site by clicking here
  3. The cover provided by your policy indemnifies you in the event of injury or damage to third parties and does not extend to protect the third party as if it was a Church of Scotland Insurance Scheme policyholder.
  4. The guidance provided by the Law Department of the Church of Scotland is that third party users of church property should be asked to provide documentary evidence that they have their own public liability insurance arrangements in place.
  5. Public Liability insurance is not required by law and sometimes small unincorporated associations/ local groups looking to hire or use church property may either decide not to carry this insurance and or find it difficult to obtain. In such circumstances each Financial Board should make its own informed decision as to whether or not it insists that the third party has the cover in place before it will permit the use of its premises. They should assess the level of risk posed by the operation of any third party (organisation or individual) before making that decision. If in doubt please seek advice from us.