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.
While everyone wants to do what they can to help, there may be practical considerations to bear in mind e.g. stationing and future plans for the Manse.
The Circuit may also have documents that will be needed later in the application process in terms of insurance or property safety/ standards for example.
Please keep everyone informed so that they can help with the application and provide any ancillary support.

2. Support   

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?”

  • It is recommended that you discuss these issues with the agencies involved in progressing any sponsorship application that you make. Can they clarify what support package will be available for you and your guests? What level of mental health support will be provided in practice both for guests and their hosts? If the support provided under the Scheme is insufficient, is help available elsewhere?
  • Are the Local Churches in your Circuit, the Circuit and/or other faith groups or charities in your area able to offer any support?
  • How is the wider Church community proposing to help the host provide additional help and support to their guests to help them settle into their new home and community?
  • Is there a Ukrainian community in your locality that can offer support?
  • Guidance is available on the Methodist Church website on the Church’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis generally (Homes for Ukraine Toolkit). Please note the guidance on Reset UK  who are offering to provide support and training to hosts and their guests.

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.

  • Is the minister currently going through the stationing process? While the current minister may be happy to share their home, what would happen if the incoming minister does not feel able to do so? For instance, the outgoing minister may live alone and be confident about sharing their Manse with guests and the incoming minister may have a large family and/or feel vulnerable/have vulnerable household members.
  • Please note the Government guidance on ending sponsorship. Hosts should give at least two months’ notice to end a sponsorship arrangement to give guests sufficient time to be found accommodation elsewhere. If the host did not wish to continue after the initial six months, notice should be given two months before the end of the six months. If the relationship broke down the Government guidance advises contacting the local council so that they can help find alternative accommodation. In both situations there are no guarantees alternatives will be available. Does the host have any contingency plans? Are there options for alternative arrangements should the need arise?

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.

  • It is thought that individuals from Ukraine would be treated as lodgers or licensees rather than tenants with legal rights to remain in occupation. The Government suggests guests would not be treated as tenants on the basis that no rent is charged but it is unclear how this would operate legally if challenged in court. The fact that accommodation is shared and there is no intention to create a legal relationship may be more persuasive. This guidance will be updated if clarification comes through once the Scheme is at a more advanced stage.
  • While it is likely that a tenancy situation (a common law tenancy rather than an assured tenancy due to no rent being payable) would only arise where a guest occupied separate accommodation e.g. an annex or empty property, there is no guidance on what would happen if the host needed their guest to leave the Manse and they refused to do so. Please be aware of the upset, costs and time involved if the Managing Trustees had to go to court and get an order for possession in the same way as they do tenants?
  • This lack of clarity over the basis of occupation means that there would need to be some level of certainty that ministers who offered their homes as accommodation would be in situ for some time.
  • What can you do you try and avoid such a breakdown in relations? Would an effective help and support network help? Would language lessons help to avoid miscommunication? Would the use of ground rules help to set out a basis for living together (see check 7 – Documentation).

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.


Although not mentioned in the Government’s guidance, it is understood that guests arriving in the UK under the Scheme will be afforded a ‘right to rent’ (if required) by virtue of Scheme participants being granted three years immigration permission. This will also mean that guests are entitled to work, and access to benefits and public services.

7. Documentation

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).


The updated Government guidance suggests that a formal document setting out terms of occupancy is not required but does now recommend having ‘ground rules’. TMCP will keep the position under review and provide a template for hosts to adapt for their use.


If you are presented with any documents relating to use of the property through the Scheme or via agencies assisting you in finding a guest to sponsor, please send these to TMCP Legal for review. Such a document may clarify the position in terms of the points above and if any charity law and Methodist law and policy requirements then come into play, we will let you know.

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?

  • Look at the property objectively. Would it provide a safe home to your guests? Are there any safety concerns e.g. unsecure bannisters? Is it almost entirely free of damp? Would any work need to be done to make it safe?
  • How many people is it appropriate to accommodate given the space and facilities available?
  • Please note the need to have working smoke detectors on each floor, working carbon monoxide detectors in any rooms containing solid fuel burning appliances (e.g. wood burning stove) and to have had a gas safety check in the last year. These requirements are all important to the safety of host and guests.
  • You may wish to refer to the article on TMCP’s website (Legislation Update – Residential Tenancies) regarding the requirements for premises that are let to residential tenants and The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 in particular.

9. Privacy

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.

10. Finances

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.

12. Insurance

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 legal@tmcp.org.uk.

If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.

 

 

 

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