Section A - Introduction
Managing Trustees are keen to do what they can to help as part of the Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme (Scheme). Under this Scheme, individuals are asked to provide a spare room in their home, or separate accommodation e.g., an annexe, to Ukrainian people, rent free for a minimum period of six months. Technically Methodist residential properties can be used to host Ukrainian people if the occupant, usually a minister, and the Managing Trustees, usually the Circuit, wish to do so. This Homes for Ukraine Checklist (Checklist) has been prepared for Managing Trustees by TMCP (Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes) Legal in conjunction with Property Support to set out the legal and property issues to be considered as part of the discussions between the Circuit and the minister who wishes to share their Manse. These questions can also be considered where the tenant of a Manse wishes to host Ukrainian people under the Scheme.
The Checklist should be used to help you work through the logistics of offering accommodation in accordance with the Government’s requirements, to see if you can provide the support required by sponsors and guests and identify any legal or property issues that you may need to address to make sure the Manse can be used to provide a safe and suitable home.
It is thought that the Church’s residential accommodation is best suited to the current Scheme and those considering use of their chapels may be able to provide more help by exploring how they can support hosts and guests living in their wider community. Guidance on how to get involved and what you can do to help is constantly being updated on the Methodist Church website. Please refer to the Homes for Ukraine Toolkit and the Methodist Church’s website.
Clear guidance is awaited from the Government on the legal basis on which guests will stay in people’s homes, and the support that will be available. This guidance will be reviewed as more details emerge. Please do keep referring to the Government’s guidance on the Scheme and particularly their FAQs.
Please note that the Scheme relies on no rent being charged to guests. If any rent is charged, and please remember that this could include payment in kind, this would fundamentally change the basis of occupation and a formal tenancy agreement would be required. Please contact TMCP Legal if there is any question of anything that could be construed as rent being given by guests to their hosts.
Please also note that offering to host guests in shared accommodation is potentially very different in legal terms to offering an empty property/exclusive use of self-contained accommodation. If considering the latter, please contact TMCP Legal for guidance. Please bear in mind however that current focus of the Scheme, and the focus of this guidance, is offering shared accommodation.
Managing Trustees are also asked to look at other ways in which they may be able to help. Please refer to the Homes for Ukraine Toolkit on the Methodist Church website with guidance for churches responding to the crisis in Ukraine.
Section B - What is the Checklist for?
The questions in this Checklist seek to highlight some of the key legal and property issues that you may need to address to ensure Methodist residential property can be used to provide a safe and suitable home for people from Ukraine in accordance with the requirements of the Scheme. You can use this Checklist as a reference tool or work through questions with the sponsor/host, Circuit Manse Managing Trustees, and the wider Church family to identify any areas that may need closer consideration.
As charity trustees it is important to ensure that the accommodation itself and circumstances of the proposed sponsor satisfy the requirements of the Scheme which are primarily to provide a safe home and support base for your guests for as long as they need refuge.
Section C – Checklist
Legal and property considerations:
1. Circuit Approval
|Is the Circuit happy for the Manse to be used to host guests from Ukraine?|| |
The Circuit Managing Trustees are responsible for the Manse and will need to confirm whether they are happy for it to be used to host guests under the Scheme.
|Will there be sufficient practical and moral support for the host and guest(s) to enable the provision of accommodation for at least the initial six months?|| |
The proposed host will no doubt already have considered very carefully how they feel about opening their home to another individual or family group for an extended period of time, the risks of relationships being difficult (at nobody’s fault) and what they can do to meet the additional needs of their guests due to the trauma they have faced. Please refer to the Government’s FAQs for details of the additional practical support you will be expected to provide to guests. See “What can I do to help my guest settle in?”
3. Time period
|Will the Manse be available for as long as required under the Scheme?|| |
Accommodation must be available for at least six months. However, the right to remain for guests from Ukraine will be up to three years. This means that there would need to be certainty that a minister was remaining in the Manse for at least six months.
4. Legal basis
|What legal rights will guests have to remain in the Manse and what does this mean in practice?|| |
There is very little clarity from the Government as to the legal basis on which guests will occupy their host’s home or separate accommodation.
5. Licensing requirements
|Have any licensing requirements been fulfilled?|| |
On the basis that shared accommodation would not create a tenancy, it is understood that selective licensing and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) rules should not apply. However, please watch out for updates on this area and if your local council indicates a licence is required then please let TMCP Legal know. Guidance on selective licensing, the process for applying for such licences and HMO requirements is available in the TMCP website.
6. Right to Rent Checks
|Have any right to rent checks been fulfilled?|| |
Landlords have been required to check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent residential property in England for some time now under the Immigration Act 2014.
|Are there any documents relating to use of the Manse by the guest(s) and have these been approved by TMCP Legal?|| |
If a document confirming the terms of the occupancy was required/made available by the Government or agency arranging the Scheme or was deemed appropriate by the Church as further details of the Scheme emerge, this would be a property contract and TMCP would need to approve the same on behalf of the Connexional Team under Standing Order 931(3).
8. Standard of accommodation
|Is the Manse suitable for the needs of the guests and host? Does it comply with the requirements of the Scheme?|| |
The accommodation to be provided must be “safe, heated and free from health hazards”. For details of the minimum requirements expected, please refer to the Government’s FAQ: “What do I need to do to make sure my home is suitable for my guest? ”
|Are there any privacy concerns and can these be addressed?|| |
A Manse is a base for the work of ministry and home (Standing Order 903). Are you happy that the minister would have adequate privacy to continue with the provision of ministry from the Manse or that alternative arrangements can be made for however long the Ukrainian guests live at the Manse?
Please refer to the guidance produced by the Safeguarding Team in terms of safeguarding considerations.
|Are sufficient funds in place to cover the increased costs to run the home?|| |
The “Thank you” payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months would be payable to the host/ the minister to put towards the increased costs of running the Manse. Please also note that the “Thank you” payment is paid in arrears.
Mindful of increasing energy and food costs, and the need to provide a warm home, if this “Thank you” payment does not cover the additional running costs, is additional financial support available from the Circuit and wider Church community? Can anyone help provide any extras that may be needed particularly at the beginning beyond the payments offered to guests by the Government?
Consider what if any works and safety tests e.g. gas safety will need to be carried out to the Manse to comply with the accommodation standards and how these will be paid for.
11. Legal restrictions
|Are there any legal restrictions on the title that would prevent use of the property to host the guests?|| |
Please check the deeds to the Manse to see whether there are any legal restrictions that need to be factored in.
Are there any restrictive covenants registered against the title that could be problematic e.g. restrictions limiting use as a residence for one household or even by a minister. If you are unsure whether the property title is subject to any restrictive covenant or whether a particular covenant is a problem, please contact TMCP Legal and/or one of the Methodist panel solicitors. They would be able to advise whether such restrictions are enforceable and/or if insurance can be obtained to protect the charity against the risk of enforcement action being taken against the Church?
Is the property subject to a legal charge/mortgage? Have the Managing Trustees secured a loan against the property with Methodist Chapel Aid for example? If so, this may include obligations that need to be factored in. Your lender’s consent may be required. TMCP Legal will contact Methodist Chapel Aid to see if there is a general position that will be adopted if Managing Trustees wish for a charged property to be used to host people under the Scheme and will update the guidance accordingly. In the meantime, please remember to speak to your lender.
|Does your insurer have any requirements that need to be factored in?|| |
Insurers have agreed that for homeowners accommodating Ukrainian Nationals in their home there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that they are accommodated as non-paying guests. Please refer to the Association of British Insurers’ statement for more details.
Although, the position is a little different with Manses, Methodist Insurance have suggested they will treat hosting in Manses occupied by ministers and their families in the same way. We will add a link to their official statement once this is live on their website.
Section D - Additional considerations
D.1 Change of circumstances
You may find the following Government FAQ (What if my circumstances change and I can’t continue sponsoring?) helpful in terms of what would happen if you were unable to continue sponsoring, however, please bear in mind that it may not necessarily be easy for the local council to find alternative accommodation for your guests. Can you put in place any contingency plans with wider Circuit support?
“What if my circumstances change and I can’t continue sponsoring?
If for any reason you need to end the sponsorship arrangement early, you should inform your local council as soon as possible. Your local council will then step in to help guests to find alternative accommodation.”
D.2 Temporary absence
Questions have been asked about what would happen if the host was temporarily away on holiday, due to family circumstances, illness or on sabbatical etc. You may like to discuss this with the agencies working with you. Do you have any planned periods of absence scheduled? Would others be able to take your place while you are away to keep an eye on the Manse and the well-being of your guests? Legally there is potentially a big difference between third parties having exclusive use of a house as opposed to sharing it with the host even though no rent is charged.
If you have any questions about the points highlighted in the Checklist, if you are considering entering into a tenancy/providing exclusive use of self-contained accommodation or suggestions about additional points to consider or solutions you have found, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.