Guidelines for Manses

These guidelines have been produced to help Circuit and Manse stewards deal with issues relating to manses. It may not cover all issues in great detail, but is intended to raise awareness and offer guidance.

The District Property Secretary and District Manses Secretary are always happy to help and advise on matters connected with manses.  The Property Support team at Methodist Church House may also be able to assist.

Throughout these guidelines the context is for a Minister; for brevity this also includes Probationary Presbyters and Deacons; the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes is abbreviated to TMCP and Support Services within the Connexional Team to SSCT.

1. Asbestos

It is best practice to seek to make the accommodation safe and fit for purpose as referred to in Standing Order 803, and the current guidance on Manses, section 4.4 which covers areas of gas and electrical safety and other information provided for a Quinquennial Inspection. 

On this basis, it would seem appropriate to undertake an asbestos survey to ascertain areas of risk/and or removal.  This would then be recorded as part of the Quinquennial Inspection and manse log book when building or alterations works are carried out. 

However, please note that if a manse was built after 2000, an asbestos inspection would not be necessary.  Further guidance about Managing Asbestos as a Building Owner  can be found here.   

2. Charity Commission Guidelines

According to Charity Commission guidance ‘The Essential Trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do CC3’ updated in May 2018 (; section 7 at 7.5 if a charity has land or building then the trustees have the following responsibilities:

“Managing property (land and buildings):

If the charity owns or rents land or buildings, you and your co-trustees should: 

  • make sure the property is recorded as belonging to the charity – (see section 11 of the guidance) 
  • know on what terms it’s held 
  • ensure it’s properly maintained and being correctly used
  • make sure the charity has sufficient insurance.”

It also states ‘You should regularly review whether the property is suitable for the charity’s purposes, and whether any property the charity let’s to generate income is still a good investment.

3. Electrical Safety

Any electrical work carried out in the manse or its garden including garage/workshop/pond must be done by a competent person to meet the requirements of Building Regulations Part P — Electrical Safety.

Completed work must be inspected and an appropriate BS7671 electrical installation test certificate issued by a competent person. Ensure that the appropriate test records are completed and are safely and securely stored. Provide these records when requested by the Manse Visitors along with other regulatory records.

Legislation now stated that the electrical wiring of the property must be tested as a minimum once every five years by a competent person (NICEIC registered or similarly approved electrical contractor).  Click here to read more about the new legislation.  Current thinking is that wiring in a house should be replaced after about 25 years.  

Any portable electrical appliance provided by the Circuit should also be checked by the user.  There is no requirement for it to be tested annually by an appropriately qualified person (PATs testing), but items that are showing signs of wear, or about which the user has concerns should be tested by an approved contractor. 

Lapses or no evidence of the above may invalidate the manse insurance cover.

For more information, please look on the Electrical Inspection and Election Installation on the Repairs and Maintenance.  

Updated 10/12/2020

4. Empty Properties

There may be occasions when a property has to stand empty for a short period.  This may be due to a minister leaving a station early, or a period between vacation of a minister and either reallocation or letting. 

  1. Your insurance company should be informed if this is the situation and their advice about the requirements should be followed. 
  2. This would usually include turning off the water (and possibly draining down the system if during the winter) and regular checks on the property. 
  3. The local authority should be informed as there is the possibility of an exemption from council tax under ‘class H’: Unoccupied dwellings, which are being held available for a minister of religion, as a residence from which he or she will perform the duties of their office, are exempt from Council Tax.  Class H will not apply if you are considering a commercial letting of the property.
5. EPC Ratings

The guidelines on manse provision (CPD, Book VII, Part 2.3) state that an incoming minister should be provided with a current Energy Performance Certificate, and that ‘Circuits should seek to provide manses to meet a minimum of a ‘C’ energy efficiency rating.’

Thus, if a manse does not have a valid EPC certificate (ie, more than 10 years old), then arrange to get a new EPC certificate.  More information can be found here.    

Energy Savings Trust offers further energy advice for homes and has a Guide to Energy Performance Certificates

In April 2020, new legislation stating that all new residential tenancies must have a minimum EPC rating of E came into effect.  In April 2021, this legislation will extend to require existing residential tenancies to have a minimum EPC rating of E.  You can check the EPC rating for a property here and TMCP have produced some useful guidance on MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard).


Updated 21/4/2022

6. Construction of a New Manse

In addition to the specific requirements in Standing Orders for the accommodation and arrangement for a manse, it is recommended that Circuits refer to the Anglican “Green Book” on the design of parsonages, especially if there is a Local Ecumenical Partnership with the Church of England in place: Parsonages. A Design Guide.

7. Garden Maintenance

According to CPD guidance, the occupants of manses should be expected to ensure that:

  • Hedges and shrubs have been trimmed/pruned at the appropriate time  
  • Lawns are cut
  • Beds are weeded 
  • Garden rubbish is removed from the premises 
  • Greenhouses, sheds and garages are emptied and swept out 

Exceptional circumstances will occasionally arise in which the occupants are unable to fulfil these basic obligations.  In which case, arrangements should be negotiated with the Circuit (or District) Managing Trustees. 

Examples of circumstances that may require professional help and would be under the Circuit's responsibility could include:

  • Tree felling, lopping, pruning or hedge-cutting/trimming at a height for which a ladder is reasonably required (unless necessitated by the occupant’s failure to trim or prune regularly) 
  • Replacing boundary walls and fences 
  • Large expanse of lawn or steeply sloping lawn 
  • Removal of ivy, wisteria or other climbers in order to maintain walls, fences, gutters and drain pipes in good repair  
  • Any other garden maintenance work agreed with the occupants by the Managing Trustees prior to the occupation of the manse or agreed during occupation.

Note that: 

  • The occupant has the option to pay a contractor for regular garden maintenance, such as lawn mowing, weeding, etc.  
  • If the occupant would like to request reimbursement for garden maintenance, the occupant should obtain the Managing Trustee's agreement to the nature of the work and the hourly rate. 
  • Please note that reimbursement for garden maintenance which is occupant's responsibility (see above) could be cause tax to be owed for 'a benefit in kind'.  However, if the maintenance is under the Circuit’s responsibilities (see above) are not subject to tax.   Please consult your Circuit Treasurer and Minister for further clarification. 
  • Any power tool supplied with the manse must have full instructions so that it can be used properly.  On taking over of a manse the steward should check the garage and shed to see what tools may have been left by the previous occupant, as these may need removing or instructions provided.

Suggestions for those less inclined to gardening:

  • There may be those in the congregation who have a green thumb and who would be willing to volunteer to help with the garden.  A garden work party could be organised in the spring and autumn to help keep the garden ticking over.   
  • Companies like Garden on a Roll could provide an attractive yet low maintenance border for a garden.  
8. Gas and Fire Safety

The provisions of the 1998 Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations must be followed by ensuring that all gas appliances are checked and serviced on an annual basis by a competent person (a person/organisation holding ‘Gas Safe’ registration).  This is an essential annual maintenance requirement as gas safety should be of paramount importance. 

The electrical wiring of the property must be tested as a minimum once every five years by a competent person (NICEIC registered or similarly approved electrical contractor).  Current thinking is that wiring in a house should be replaced after about 25 years.

Lapses or no evidence of the above may invalidate the manse insurance cover.

Any portable electrical appliance provided by the Circuit should also be checked by the user.  There is no requirement for it to be tested annually by an appropriately qualified person (PATs testing), but items that are showing signs of wear, or about which the user has concerns should be tested by an approved contractor. 

 Smoke detectors, which comply to BS 5446 Part 1, should be supplied and correctly fitted.  Arrangements should be made for the batteries to be changed annually.  From the 1st October 2015 regulations require smoke alarms to be installed in non-private residential accommodation and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance.  In Scotland a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in all rooms with fixed combustion appliances of any kind, with the exception of appliances used exclusively for cooking.

A fire blanket, as a minimum, should be provided near to the cooker.  A small fire extinguisher may also be considered.

Although some Ministers are capable and avid DIYers, we retain a ‘duty of care’.  We should ensure that any instructions for the use of any equipment is supplied and, if necessary, ensure the Minister is competent in its use.  This applies especially to items such as a provided lawnmower. 

Ministers should not carry out gas, electrical or plumbing works, these are areas for qualified tradespeople only.  A Minister who has had such a qualification should be reminded that it is no longer their occupation and they do not retain the necessary insurance indemnity.

9. Legionella

Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.

Normally there is no reason why the landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent. Usually there will be no need to employ a consultant. The assessment should be a straight forward simple exercise in ordinary domestic premises.  Click here to view of template assessment.  

Note - Some consultants and letting agents are misinterpreting or misunderstanding landlord's responsibilities regarding legionella risks. They are claiming that Guidance from HSE is somehow new legislation imposing new requirements on residential landlords. This is wrong. The HSE themselves say that the legislation has not been changed and any misinterpretation/misunderstanding can impose unnecessary financial burdens on landlords where they have been charged for legionella testing certificates that they do not actually need.

 For most residential settings the risk assessment may well show the risks are low so long as simple control measures are followed. This will apply to houses or flats with small domestic type water systems where the water turnover is high. Provided the risk assessment shows that the risks are insignificant and the control measures are being properly managed no further action would be necessary.

 It is important, however, to keep the assessment under review periodically in case anything changes to the system.

For more information, please refer to the HSE's Guidance on Landlord's Responsibilities with Legionella.

Control measures

Simple control measures will help manage the risk from Legionella and these should be maintained including:

  • flushing out the water system by running all outlets for at least 5 minutes where the premises have not been used e.g. before letting the property or if the property has stood empty for a time

  • avoiding debris getting into the system (e.g. making sure cold water tanks, if installed, have a tight fitting lid)

  • setting controls so that the hot water is heated to and stored at 60°C

  • the removal of any redundant pipe work

  • advising tenants to regularly clean, descale and disinfect shower heads


Guidance for occupants

Landlords are entitled to expect the occupants will play their part in ensuring control measures are maintained. Landlords should:

  • inform occupants of potential risk of exposure to Legionella and its consequences

  • tell occupants of any action which arises from the landlords risk assessment if appropriate

  • tell occupants to inform the landlord if the hot water system is not heating properly or if there are any other problems with the system

  • tell the landlord if the cold water system is not running cold

  • tell occupants to keep the water turned over

To assist we have prepared a guidance sheet for occupants which can be found below.

Unoccupied premises

 If the water system has not been flushed weekly as described below, then a test is essential before re-opening the building. Even if accepted practice has been followed as outlined below, within houses of varying ages and conditions, there may still remain some risk, and therefore it is very strongly advised that a test is carried out before reopening. This should be considered as part of any checks and risk assessments and is a decision for the managing trustees.


If the managing trustees choose to have a test, the simplest test would be to gather 2 samples - one where the water enters the building and one where it exits.  Please note that it is advisable to discuss if this is sufficient with the local service provider as each water system is different. Legionella Control have set out of code of conduct which would help in finding a suitable service provider.

Tests can take up to ten days to be analysed and during this time water outlets producing mist shouldn’t be used. If the test is positive for either bacteria, then a chemical flush can be arranged.  

Checklist for Weekly Flush

Here is a checklist for a weekly flush to prevent legionella:  

  1. All water systems should be flushed on a weekly basis. 

  2. All hot water storage systems should be switched off (but not drained) and flushed to prevent the storage of hot / warm water.

  3. All taps (hot and cold) should be run at half pressure for 5 minutes each at every flushing.

  4. All outside taps should be run at half pressure for 5 minutes each at every flushing.

  5. All toilets should be flushed twice at every flushing.

  6. All showers should be run for 5 minutes each at every flushing (ideally run these into a bucket to prevent mist and droplets being breathed in by the tester).

  7. All hot water boilers should be run and flushed through at every flushing.

  8. All dishwashers should be run and flushed through at every flushing.

  9. Any other water appliance should be flushed (i.e. washing machines).

  10. If a church has air conditioning and condensers then they should take separate advice from their maintenance contractor.

  11. All inspections and flushing operations should be recorded on a register.   

Safety precautions

If a building has remained empty for a period of time,  then there is a risk that the systems are infected. Therefore when flushing the systems, ensure that spray and water particles aren’t breathed in (wear a mask or stand well clear of the running water and run showers heads into buckets or containers).

Updated July 2020

10. Letting a Manse

There are at least two occasions when it may be necessary or advantageous to let out a manse on the open market. 

  1. During a period of over six months when the manse would be unoccupied
  2. When a Minister dies in service. 

This later occasion can be both stressful and emotional for the bereaved, the Church and the Circuit.  On this matter Standing Orders state:

‘On the death of a minister, deacon or probationer, the deceased’s spouse and/or any dependents of the deceased then resident in the manse shall be entitled to remain there until the end of the current connexional year.’ CPD 801(5)

Where a minister dies in service the deceased’s family should be informed at the earliest opportunity, that they may stay in the manse and offer support to them.  
If the deceased’s family wish to live in the manse after the end of the Connexional year and the Circuit does not require the manse immediately, they have to become tenants.  This is a requirement of the Charity Commission) of the Circuit and both parties have to go through the legalities of setting up a Residential Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement for a period of not less than six months.

You will need to keep Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP) and the District Property Secretary informed of the situation.  More information about residential tenancies can be found the Lettings page on TMCP's website.    

The first step is to gain two valuations for the manse indicating the likely amount of rent per calendar month it would attract.  The most authoritative valuation will be by a Chartered Surveyor and a second valuation can be sought from a well-established local letting agent.

TMCP have a model tenancy agreement, which although similar to those used by letting agents, has an additional section relating to the Manse Stewards or Senior Stewards acting on behalf of the Landlord (i.e. Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes).

The Circuit officials may consider that they wish to use a letting agent, in which case most will be happy to issue the tenancy agreement with the amendments as above. Agency fees usually range from 8— 12% of the monthly letting rent plus VAT.

As the Circuit is already looking after the maintenance of the property, it would seem a waste of money to ask the letting agent to do this as well.  Most agents charge 2.5% just to handle invoices etc.

The deceased’s family should be given an opportunity to review the tenancy agreement before both parties sign. It would also be wise to make a list of any ‘damages’ incurred by the family and any maintenance required to be carried out in an agreed timescale by the Landlord, signed for and actioned hopefully, before the tenancy agreement is signed.

As regard to the payment of rent, this is up to the Circuit.  The family may have sufficient funds to pay the agreed rent, but if not the Circuit may decide to contribute to it or even pay the whole amount out of Circuit funds.  If this is the case there should be an audit trail which clearly identifies the exact amount shown as expenditure and income as separate headings (in case of a  Charity Commission audit). The easy way of performing this is to pay it out of the Circuit’s Benevolent Fund.

In the case of an unoccupied manse most of the above is relevant, except that the property is empty.  In this instance it would be wise to use the services of a letting agent, as they can provide a useful service, knowing the legal issues involved and also are able to advertise to a wider clientele.

Remember, the Circuit will have to supply (if let unfurnished) a cooker, a hob, a washing machine and a refrigerator, plus curtains and carpets.  It would also be wise to restrict the tenancy to non-smokers and specify that no animals are allowed in the house.

In either situation, if the tenancy goes ahead, the Circuit’s ‘authorised person’ should create a lease project on the consents site and send a copy of the signed tenancy agreement to TMCP, along with a certificate from the letting agent signifying that the best possible rent was obtained as required by the Charity Commission.  Please note that the rental agreement should be reviewed every 2 years and consent must be given given again at this time.   

Updated 10/12/2020

11. Logbook

During the Connexional year, there will be an amount of paperwork generated to ensure the upkeep of manses within a Circuit.  Ideally, with the capacity and technology of computing, most of the ‘paperwork’ can be produced, scanned on a computer and stored on portable media. 

The responsible person should hold a logbook recording actions taken on each manse in their care.  The logbook should also contain all certificates relating to manses statutory inspections, double glazing installations, loft insulation, planning and building regulations approval etc., annual and other schedules should be filed and stored securely and kept for as long as the manse is owned by the Circuit.  

Templates for a log book can be downloaded here.  

Suggested list of items for inclusion in the logbook:  

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist with providing a copy.  
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Trustees are recommended to ensure suitable provision for disabled access wherever possible 
  • Risk assessments are recommended good practice  
  • An asbestos and a legionella risk assessments are recommended 
  • An annual manse stewards’ report is required 
  • Other requirements as listed for churches – electrical, gas, fire etc

Remember that if there is a need to pass on information to your successor, that person will have an easier task!
The A-Z list on the Maintenance page contains useful information regarding the upkeep and maintenance of buildings.  

12. Purchase of a Manse

Approvals Prior to Purchase

Buying any property is often fraught with problems. Buying a manse is even more difficult - but don’t give up!

It is important to plan well in advance, both in terms of timescale and also other practical details. The Circuit Meeting may wish to give authority to a small group (this may be the same group if also selling a manse) to look for an appropriate property, specifying both the area in which to look, and the financial limit.

The steps to follow are:

  1. There should be a Circuit Meeting Minute giving this group of named individuals authority to take all necessary action in connection with the purchase. This is important as decisions often have to be taken quickly and it is just not possible or practical to convene and report back to a Circuit Meeting. 
  2. At the same time there should be:
  3. The group then has the task of finding the right house, in the right location, at the right price.  See below considerations when buying a manse. 
  4. When a house has been found for which the group consider making an offer, the Circuit’s ‘authorised person’ should create a purchase project on the consents site
  5. The District Manses Secretary should be informed based on the information available to confirm its suitability as a manse.  
  6. At this stage, you will need to be contact with TMCP regarding the legal aspects of the purchases.  Useful information such as Purchase Checklist and Guidance for Solicitors can be found here. 
  7. Once an offer has been put in and accepted by the Vendors the Surveyor should be instructed to undertake a full building (structural) survey and valuation.  Normally a “Home Buyers Survey and Valuation” will be adequate.  A copy of this will need to be submitted to TMCP in Manchester for their approval. 
    • Copies of any guarantees in respect of the house or elements of it i.e. National House Builders Council guarantee if the house is less than 10 years old, guarantees in respect of cavity wall insulation, double glazed window and door units, etc., will also be required. 
    • Any documents should be uploaded onto the consents site so that they are readily available.
  8. Remember to list any works which need to be carried out in order to bring the property up to standard as specified in the Surveyor’s report. 
    • It is recommended that a gas (where appropriate) and electrical installation inspection is carried out and costed to show up any hidden work requiring attention, before the contracts are signed. 
  9. At some point in this process the Circuit Meeting will need to agree formally the purchase of the new manse and the necessary financial arrangements.

Points to Consider When Looking for a Manse

  1. Location - is it close or not too far away from the main Church over which the occupant will have Pastoral charge?  (within 1.5 miles or 15 minutes walk) 
  2. Does the house offer the right accommodation in respect of:
    • size
    • bedroom accommodation
    • living accommodation
    • study
    • bathroom/toilet accommodation, including a cloakroom on the ground floor if a study is in use.
  3. Is the configuration of the rooms such that other members of the family can operate normally when the room(s) used by the Minister is/are in use?
  4. Is the house suitable for all types/composition of manse family?  The purchase, and subsequent sale, of a manse can be expensive both in time and money.  It should be a long-term investment and the likely needs of successive Ministers should be considered.
  5. Are there shops, schools, buses, doctors’ surgeries and other facilities within a reasonable distance?
  6. Is the garden adequate/too large/too small? Can children play in it safely? Is it easily maintained? (again bear in mind the needs of future manse occupants)
  7. Is there appropriate garaging or parking facilities for more than one vehicle? Many families now have more than one vehicle. What about parking for visitors? Is this available ‘within the vicinity’? If not will visitors’ parking cause a nuisance to neighbours?
  8. Does the house represent value for money in terms of:
    •  Present condition?
    • Repairs/alterations required before initial occupancy?
    • Long-term maintenance?
    • Likely running costs?
  9. Considerations for future occupants who may have special needs:
    • Suitability of access - external steps - on a slope?
    • Cover to exit a vehicle with a mobility aid in inclement weather? 
    • Width of internal corridors and doorways?
    • Ground floor cloakroom - is it large enough to accommodate a wheelchair or walking frame?
    • Ground floor accommodation - is there potential to convert room space to bedroom/en-suite?
    • If a house - is the staircase suitable to accommodate a stair lift?
    • Bathroom or en-suite - is there a step-in shower unit or potential for one?
  10. Although not of overriding importance, the location of a prospective property may be an important factor for Ministers who have school age children.  

Financial arrangements

Sources of finance include:

  • Proceeds from the sale of existing or previous manses (Note: please mark as a ‘replacement project’ on the consents site so that Connexional authority can be considered).  Click here for further guidance on Replacement Projects.   
  • New money raised locally
  • Use of Circuit Model Trust Fund
  • Loans from Methodist Chapel Aid

After the purchase

Don’t forget that the Circuit has a responsibility to provide certain items in each Manse. The recommended requirements are:

  • Dining Room: carpet and underlay or rug(s)
  • Lounge: carpet and underlay or rug(s)
  • Study: desk of adequate size; chair; two additional chairs; lockable filing cabinet: plenty of cupboard and drawer room; bookshelves; telephone; carpet and underlay; waste paper basket
  • Kitchen: modern sink unit with adequate draining facilities; efficient and economical gas or electric cooker; adequate shelf and cupboard room and good working surfaces; proper provision for food storage and kitchen utensils, preferably enclosed; suitable floor covering
  • Bedrooms: these should be carpeted
  • Bathroom: bath; wash basin: wc; towel rail; toilet cupboard or shelf; suitable floor covering.  A separate shower is preferable, but an ‘over bath’ shower is acceptable.
  • Hall: suitable floor covering where necessary; stair carpet; carpet on landing
  • General: Study furniture should be in good condition, paying special attention to chairs and any other weight bearing furniture
  • Curtains or blinds for all windows (to be renewed after fair wear and tear). 
  • Electric light bulbs and properly fitted shades throughout – bulbs should be low energy wherever possible. 
  • An adequate supply of 13 amp sockets (especially in the study for office equipment).
  • A suitable TV aerial or cable facility for telephone/TV, and internet connection.  
  • The central heating system should be such as to provide constant hot water at minimum cost, with an immersion heater for summer use.
  • Plumbing for an automatic washing machine should be available.
  • Draught excluders should be fitted where necessary.
  • Security locks for external doors and ground floor windows must be fitted. 
  • A lawn mower, adequate for the size of the garden, should be provided.

Commonsense and flexibility needs to be exercised when providing the above equipment.  It may be that the Minister already has some of this equipment of his/her own and would prefer to use it. 

In these circumstances it must be remembered that the Circuit will need to provide this equipment at some time in the future.  The standard of furnishings and fittings provided may be dictated by the available of finance.  Every effort should be made to ensure that the best possible standard is provided in the long term giving the best value for money.

13. Quinquennial Inspections
Every 5 years the Circuit is required to arrange for a Quinquennial Inspection to be carried out by a qualified person (usually a Chartered Surveyor or Chartered Architect).  This should also include an inspection for timber decay if advised by the inspecting surveyor/architect. 
For more information about Quinquennial Inspection, please look on the Repairs and Maintenance.  As well, the Surveyor's Panel may be of use.  
A formal report will be issued to the Circuit Property Secretary, together with a Schedule E which sets out any work required and the timescales in which the work should be completed.  
One question is how soon after a purchase should the first Quinquennial inspection take place.  This depends on the manse concerned.   If it is a ‘new build’ or a very recent build (within three years) then there will be the NHBC guarantees and the relevant certificates must be obtained.
Older buildings will not have the advantage of such guarantees, although there may be guarantees on items such as new extensions, new windows, heating and electrical systems. 
However, these are insufficient for a proper consideration of the requirements of a Quinquennial Inspection.  A ‘home buyer’s pack’, or even a structural survey for the provision of a loan will not be sufficient. 
As a result, a full Quinquennial Inspection should be carried out within two years of purchase or within five years of completion of a new build.
A copy of each Quinquennial Report and the Schedule E should also be sent to the District Manses Secretary.  For further information, please review the guidance on Quinquennial Inspections
On a five yearly cycle the District Manses Advisory Committee (sometimes known as Visitors) arrange for a visit to be made to every manse in the District. The intention is not only to look at the physical condition of the property but also to show pastoral concern, regarding housing, for Ministers and their families whilst they are within the District.  As part of this inspection the action taken by the Circuit on the recommendations made in the last Quinquennial Report will be noted.

The Manse Visitors report on each of the manses visited in that year is sent to the Circuit Superintendent, who should send a copy to the person in charge of manses in the Circuit. These reports can act as a useful reminder of essential and recommended work to be carried out.  The District Manses Secretary should inform the Senior Circuit Steward and the Circuit Superintendent prior to the visit.

The person in charge of manses should make available, before the visit, to the Visitors:

  • Summary of the current Quinquennial report and Schedule E (Quinquennial Certificate for Manses) 
  • Circuit checklist (formerly the Supplement to Schedule C; available on the online returns site)  
  • Current annual gas inspection and servicing approvals
  • Electrical installation check reports (required to be performed as a minimum every five  years) 
  • Any portable appliance test (PAT) results for electrical equipment supplied by the Circuit (eg. washing machines, dishwashers etc.)

 After 12 months the Senior Circuit Steward is asked to provide information on what actions have been taken on the Manse Visitors report, which are then summarised and presented to the next District Synod, usually in the spring of that year.

Further information on Quinquinnel Inspections can be found on the Repairs and Maintenance Page.  

14. Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements
An appropriate Circuit Officer should exercise an oversight on the local manses. It is important that this person establishes a good working relationship with the Ministers and their families.   Clear lines of communication and responsibility need to be determined and there should be clarity regarding the ordering and undertaking of repairs.
Special attention needs to be exercised where Probationer Ministers are appointed as they are likely to be unfamiliar with living in a manse. 

Some Ministers are keen and capable ‘DIYers’, others are not and these abilities need to be borne in mind when agreeing minor repair responsibilities.

A formal inspection by a small circuit team should take place on an annual basis.  The team should consult with the Ministers and their spouses and should consider the state of repair and redecoration of each manse in the circuit.  This inspection is invaluable when completing the on-line annual Circuit Return.

The outcome of the various inspections should be the formulation of a work programme for each manse. This should include: 
  • work to be done on an annual basis - heating servicing etc. 
  • work to be done on a cyclical basis - redecoration etc.
  • pre-planned major repairs/replacements of both building elements and carpets/fittings.

A rolling programme allows for some work to be undertaken each year which makes budgeting easier, shows ongoing care and concern for both the manse and the family, allows the personal taste of the family to be expressed and is usually easier to organise. 

It does mean, however that a ‘new’ manse family may have to live with their predecessors’ choice for a longer period.  A ‘blitz’ on a manse allows for much more personal choice to be expressed by the incoming family.  However, it can be more difficult to organise and  it also needs the accumulation of reserves to fund the work.  

A point to remember is that Ministers incur taxation on the ‘Market Value’ (usually 1/3 of the cost) over 5 years for the redecoration of rooms (excluding the Study) and the replacement of some carpets. Sometimes this can be an issue and should be dealt with sensitively, but it should be remembered that the Circuit Stewards do have a responsibility to keep manses in good order.

Capital Expenditure Scheme

There will be occasions where kitchens, bathrooms and en-suites will need refurbishment and possibly major building works undertaken. These are classified as capital expenditure, and will not attract any tax consideration for Ministers. Financing these schemes will invariably come from the Circuit’s Model Trust Fund. 

With a wide range of prices charged by tradespeople, it is difficult to decide if prices quoted for a job, however large or small, reflect value for money – Members’ money.  A useful source of information as a guide to prices is the publication ‘The Property Makeover Price Guide’ from the Building Cost Information Service of RICS, referred to as the ‘blue book’ (  Prices quoted range from cleaning out gutters to building extensions.

Bearing the tax situation in mind it is important to ensure that, whenever possible, newly purchased manses are in good order before the Minister and his/her family take up residence.  Similarly, if work can be carried out between one family leaving and the next moving in, then again no Minister will be liable to pay tax.

Manse Annual Maintenance Costs

The October 1993 Property Board accepted the principle that future advice to circuits in respect of manse annual maintenance costs be based on current costs, with an inflationary element incorporated in the final figure.  We give below our estimate of current costs (Sept 2018) but they can be neither right nor wrong since all the criteria are based upon the mythical “average manse”.

However the given figure is probably a reasonable starting point to derive an annual figure for a specific manse. It will need adjusting depending on size, age and current general condition, the traditional weighting for the Southeast appears, at least for the present, not to be necessary.

Costs considered appropriate for a manse to the standards recommended in Standing Order 803 and of average size and reasonably modern in design and construction are:

Cost (£)
Decorations (internal) 5150 5
Decorations (external) 2050 5
Floor coverings 5850 8
Curtains  2475  8
Kitchen fittings 4000 15
Cooker  750 12
Utility fittings 1450 15
Study furniture 1500 10
Central heating boiler 1400 15
Central heating installation 4025 25
Rewiring 4500 30
Mower 200 10
Shed (installed) 800 15
Roof covering (inc. scaffolding) 6500 60
Sundry General Repairs 1500 Yearly


It is suggested that 2% compound be added annually for inflation.


A list of competent local tradespeople should be kept.  Better value/quality of service is likely to be achieved as a result of a good working relationship built up with such firms.

In line with good procurement processes, stewards should seek at least three quotations when considering any works, and for works which you anticipate will cost over £25,000 a full tender exercise should be carried out.  

However, it is important to ensure that the work specified to each contractor is the same for a direct comparison of quotations and to ensure you have the best value.

The Maintenance Booker website offers recommendations for finding a local contractor.   

15. Security
  • Locks on all external exit doors should be 5 lever and comply with appropriate British Standards (most insurance companies require this standard before agreeing cover). 
  • Ground floor windows should also have locks fitted.
  • Adequate lighting must be provided at front entrance doors - casual, unexpected visitors often call at manses and they need to be clearly seen when it is dark and a spy-hole or window so the caller can be viewed before the door is opened. 
  • Security lighting with passive infra-red detectors should be provided at appropriate points. 
  • A modern intruder alarm should be strongly considered.  Where one is provided it should be covered by an annual maintenance agreement. 
  • Some police services provide free crime prevention advice and a contact directory is provided here:
16. Selling a Manse

A situation may arise when a manse has to be sold: it may be surplus to the Circuit’s current staffing requirements or it becomes prudent to purchase a manse of equal or lesser value to reduce the running and maintenance costs.

If an existing manse is to be sold, this requires the majority agreement at a Circuit Meeting, and recorded within the minutes.  A small group (usually made up of Circuit and Property Stewards) on the authority of the Circuit Meeting should construct a proposal of relevant information regarding the manse;

  1. why there is a need to sell the property 
  2. for what purpose(s) the resulting proceeds are be used. 

This same group are usually authorised to take all necessary action regarding the sale, and the Circuit’s ‘authorised person’ should create a sale project on the consents site

A valuation and report from a surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will also be required, this is a Charity Law requirement and is known as a Qualified Surveyor’s Report or QSR.  Recommendations of surveyors can be found on the Surveyor's Panel.    

At this time it is also advisable to cheek that the deeds of the manse are complete and readily available.  Action can now begin to clarify issues such as rights of way, boundary fences etc., which if left until later may delay matters and could even result in a sale not proceeding. TMCP have produced useful guidance on selling property which can be found on  

Remember, net proceeds resulting from a manse sale are forwarded directly to the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP) for capital projects only or towards the purchase of a new manse.  Further guidance on Replacement Projects can be found here.  

These funds are liable to a ‘one off” or annual percentage deductions depending upon current Methodist Conference initiatives (your Circuit Treasurer will be able to inform you).

17. Standing Order for the Provision of Manses

Standing order 803 deals specifically with accommodation and furnishing. Standing Order 804 deals with furniture.  They are not reproduced here and reference should be made to the current CPD to ensure compliance.  

Whilst Standing Orders currently indicate that a bedroom may be used as a study it has been the recent practice that when buying a new manse that the study should be located on the ground floor. 

However with the increasing provision of offices in churches there is less need for a ground floor study.  When a study is provided in their manse it is essential that there is provision for Ministers to meet people on the ground floor, without interrupting the family. 

The study should, wherever possible, provide a level entry to the study so that those with mobility differences can access without difficulty. 

This aspect needs to be carefully considered on purchase, and with an eye on any future plans for the minister, their station and any other building from which they may work.

Charter for Incoming Ministers

The Conference of 2000 (Agenda pp. 216–218), in response to a Memorial to the Conference of 1999, adopted a proposal that, to encourage good practice and to increase awareness, a Charter for Incoming Ministers be printed in CPD.

It was re-phrased to reflect the inclusive usage of ‘minister’ in 2012. It was substantially revised to become a Charter for Outgoing and Incoming Ministers by the Conference of 2016.  See Appendix 1

Circuit Officers should liaise with outgoing Ministers to ensure that the provisions of the above charter are satisfactorily implemented.


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