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Coronavirus – further financial response  - lettings

19 March 2020 (4.00pm)
Updated 26 March (2.15pm)

Dear Friends

Following my letters last week giving some guidance on how to deal with you finances now we are not meeting in our church buildings it has become clear that we need to update our guidance particularly around Pre-Schools.  This note includes those changes.

Informal Lettings

Where you let out the church’s premises under a casual hiring agreement, for example, for exercise classes or social gatherings, these arrangements are likely to have to stop and the income from such activities will also cease. A church seeking to terminate such arrangements should check the terms of any agreement and offer refunds where appropriate. 

Letting under a Formal Lease

Where a church has let its premises under a formal lease or licence, whether the tenant should continue to use the premises and whether rent will be payable will depend on a number of factors. These include: the overall levels of risk (taking into account the type of the property, its location and use); the terms of the lease and any relevant emergency legislation or Government guidance. It is essential that, in such circumstances, the church communicates effectively with its tenant, monitors the situation constantly and takes appropriate legal advice where necessary before undertaking any formal action.  For, example, where church property is let to a foodbank which requires an ongoing base then you may wish to be guided by the foodbank trustees on use of the premises in a safe way. Alternatively, if you let premises to (or run) a Pre-School this should only remain open to children of key workers or such other children that may attend school in accordance with the latest Government guidance. Churches that have been approached about rental suspension or similar arrangements would have to balance forgoing rent to which they are lawfully entitled with the potential risks to future income of having a tenant that is in financial difficulties. Any agreements relating to such matters should be properly documented to prevent future disputes. Churches needing further advice may, in the first instance, e mail: legal.ops@baptist.org.uk

Manse or Other Residential Property

If you have rented out a manse or other residential property then that should continue as normal.
We realise that some of our people could be upset if our buildings continue to be used by tenants but we are closed for worship so you may want to communicate the situation with your people.

Pension Fund  

We are continuing to explore whether the Pensions Regulator will allow the Pension Fund Trustees to suspend, as a temporary measure, deficit contributions to the Pension Fund.  Contributions for current ministers and staff will continue.

John Levick

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The Government has recently updated their advice regarding coronavirus.
Guidance from our Legal Team on various legal and regulatory issues that have arisen because of the lockdown
Entering phase 2 of the recovery plan provides an opportunity to review your pastoral visiting practices, while still seeking to reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level
We are all aware that we are in extremely unusual times and there is much uncertainty about the future. The closing of our church buildings has had a major impact on our life together and presented challenges to how we operate as a church.
The Government has published guidance and a FAQs document to provide information on the Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have revised our guidelines on weddings, funerals and baptism still further.
    Posted: 18/05/2020
    Posted: 20/03/2020