Hiring out church premises

10 April 2024

Many churches offer their premises for hire to outside groups and organisations.

Concerts, keep-fit classes, youth clubs, business meetings, car parking - even kick-boxing classes and skateboarder drop-in centres were just some of the examples of how churches and parish 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?

The booking agreement

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. 

Health and safety

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 statement  and should be included in the risk assessments.

Public liability insurance

The public liability (third party) insurance under our Church Insurance policy provides an indemnity to the Select Vestry and the RCB 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  Select Vestry should obtain written confirmation from any hirers that they have public liability cover for their activities while the church premises are being hired and should request a specific indemnity to your Select Vestry.
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 under it  would extend to include the organising of such an event.

Child protection

The hiring of church premises to children’s groups is a common scenario for many churches and the Select Vestry should refer to the Safeguarding Trust  and/or the Diocesan Child Protection Officer, for specific advice and guidance on this matter.
We do, however, consider it good practice for the Select Vestry to obtain written confirmation from any such group that it has a child protection policy and that it uses the services of the National Vetting Bureau