Regular Inspections

Below is a A-Z listing of regular inspections of Methodist property.  

Methodist Insurance has created a Risk Calendar to help you look after and protect your church and those who use it.  Click here to view.  

Click here for information on maintenance on historic buildings, including a maintenance plan template.  

SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has a series of helpful maintenance videos.  Click here to watch. 

Quinquennial Inspections are the foundation inspection that occurs every 5 years.  This inspection should help Managing Trustees to look after their building and effectively plan for repairs.  

If you need assistance finding a contractor, the following may be of assistance:

1. Annual Property Checklist

The Church Property Checklist and the Circuit Property Checklist can be found here.  

You may also find this template for Maintenance Inspection form that was created by Churches for Cumbria. 

As well, Methodist Insurance have put together a useful Risk Calendar as useful tool for the upkeep of church buildings.  

2. Annual Returns

Schedules A and C and their supplements (check lists) as well as Schedule D are now part of the ANNUAL RETURNS section of the Methodist Online Suite of Applications

Registration information and guidance documents can be accessed on the Online Suite guidance page

Guidance Notes for Annual Inspection can be found here.

3. Churches - Asbestos (check every 6 months to 1 year)
It is a legal requirement (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) that the Managing Trustees have a “duty to manage” any risk from asbestos in church buildings and any other non-domestic premises.
The first stage is to prepare a risk assessment to determine whether asbestos is present in your buildings. If it is, there are only two options:
  1. High risk - the asbestos must be removed
  2. Low risk - it can be sealed and left in position, together with warning notices and possibly minor repair.

There has been some misunderstanding about the requirement for the initial survey and subsequent inspections of asbestos. The initial survey should be undertaken by a specialist who will prepare a formal report which should be kept in the church log book. It is then the Church Council as Managing Trustees who have the responsibility as duty holders to manage the ongoing risk by having regular inspections, which can range from 6 months to 1 year depending on the type and location.    
The HSE Guide to Managing Asbestos states: The duty to manage asbestos is contained in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the ‘duty holder’) to:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, the scale of the problem, where it is and what condition it is in; 
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not; 
  • Make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos; 
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the ACMs; 
  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed; 
  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action; 
  • Periodically review and monitor the plan as well as check the asbestos, ensuring the arrangements and the condition of asbestos remains safe, relevant and up to date;
  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.  
There is also a requirement on anyone to cooperate as far as is necessary to allow the duty holder to comply with the above requirements.
In the case of Methodist churches, the duty holder is the Church Council as Managing Trustees, having clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the premises. 
What premises are affected?
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises.  Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.
Manses are also included by reason that the responsibility for maintenance and repair rests with the Circuit Meeting, with the incumbent treated as a ‘tenant’ under the act.  Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, we do not have a duty to manage asbestos risks in private houses, manses, individual flats, private rooms above churches, rooms let to lodgers or domestic garages let to a specific tenant.
However, the situation is not quite that simple for two reasons - responsibility for common areas and the existence of other relevant health and safety legislation.

The duty to manage asbestos applies to the common areas of purpose built flats and houses converted into flats, such as foyers, corridors, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, lifts and lift-shafts.  Similarly, it applies to the stairs and access areas of flats above or attached to churches and other similar premises.  It would also apply to an area used for temporary accommodation of visitors, such as a Christmas centre for rough sleepers (but not to private visitors of the occupier) and to any ‘Houses in Multiple Occupancies’, that is any properties which are let or tenanted to two or more people who do not form a single family unit.

We can be responsible for the repair of premises or equipment in these areas and will be regarded as the duty holder.  As such, we will be responsible for carrying out a survey to identify any asbestos containing materials in the property, drawing up a management plan and informing contractors / tradesmen about the presence of asbestos before they undertake any work.
Asbestos can be found in a wide range of items in domestic properties, including ceiling tiles, insulating board, pipe insulation, sprayed and textured coatings, cement, fire doors and wall cladding.  It is often difficult to identify, so to ensure we comply with the regulations, we should assume asbestos is present in any property that was built or underwent major refurbishment work between 1950 and 1999.
Not all the asbestos containing materials identified will need to be removed, but it is sensible to seek advice from an asbestos specialist about whether or not they are safe and what steps need to be taken before any type of work is done to the property.

Other Relevant Health and Safety Legislation

One thing all residential landlords need to be aware of is the Defective Premises Act 1972, which requires reasonable care to ensure that tenants and visitors are safe from personal injury and illness caused by the condition of the premises.

Although asbestos is not specifically mentioned it is covered by the Act, which applies to all domestic properties - including those even where there is no specific duty to manage under the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires all rented property to be fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and further requires the landlord to maintain that basic standard.  Any property that features asbestos containing materials that are in an unsafe condition may not comply with the Act.  Under this act, section 8 ‘property’ includes ‘a part of a house, and any yard, garden, outhouses and appurtenances belonging to the house or usually enjoyed with it.’

Further, when we employ staff (including volunteers) to look after the properties, we also need to ensure compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  This includes a general obligation for employers to conduct their activities in such a way that workers are not exposed to health and safety risks, such as asbestos.

While trying to identify which pieces of legislation apply to any particular rented property may be a little confusing, ensuring compliance with all the regulations is more straightforward.  If we ensure that we follow expert advice and best practice for asbestos management, we ensure a safe environment for tenants and workers, as well as making certain we minimise any legal problems. 

The Health & Safety Executive produces comprehensive information about asbestos.  
Here are some basic principles to remember:
  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it doesn’t present a health hazard. 
  • Don’t remove asbestos unnecessarily; removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in place and managing it. 
  • Not all asbestos materials present the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement. 
  • Don’t assume you need to bring in a specialist in every case (for example, you can inspect your own building rather than employ a surveyor).  But are you competent to be able to identify the various types of asbestos that might be present - either as a pipe insulation or hidden as a constituent material within a product (such as floor tiling, paint, etc)? And do you know what level of hazard is associated with each type? 
  • If you are unsure about whether certain materials contain asbestos, you should presume they do and treat them as such. 
  • Remember that 'the duty to manage' is all about putting in place the practical steps necessary to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos but ensuring that it is checked regularly (between 6 months to a 1 year).  

If any ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (eg pipe insulation and asbestos insulating panels).

If the materials are lower risk (eg asbestos cement), then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work.

How do duty holders comply?
Find - you must check if materials containing asbestos are present or are liable to be present;

Condition - you must check what condition the material is in;
Presume - you must assume the material contains asbestos unless you have strong evidence that it does not; 
Identify - if you are planning to have maintenance or refurbishment of the building carried out or the material is in poor condition, you may wish to arrange for the material to be sampled and identified by a specialist;
Record - record the location and condition of the material on a plan or drawing;
Assess  - you must decide if the condition or the location means the material is likely to be disturbed; 
Plan -  prepare and implement a plan to manage these risks, including regular inspections.  
When finding a professional to carry out the survey, it is best practice to obtain 3 quotes.  Principles for finding a suitable professional can be found on the HSE website under Selecting a Competent Surveyor.
Further useful information can be found here:
Managing Trustees should also bear in mind that a risk assessment is needed in order to satisfy the conditions of your insurance policy.
We realise that these regulations may be imposing a considerable additional burden on local churches, but the government now believes that asbestos poses such a danger to health that it considers a risk assessment to be essential. 
Updated February 2021 include new links and references to regular inspections of asbestos 
4. Churches - Burial Ground Maintenance

Maintenance of Burial Grounds: Guidance

Who is responsible for them?

Until a burial ground is disposed of (rather than closed), the Managing Trustees of the Church to which it belongs remain responsible for it.  This may be the Circuit Meeting rather than the Church Council, if trusteeship has been delegated or the local church has ceased worship.  In any case, it is important to keep a record of whose care it is in.  

Individual 'plots' within the ground are the responsibility of the plot owner, or their successor in title.  However, where the owner cannot be traced, usually due to the length of time, then it falls again to the Managing Trustees.

Why does this matter?

There is no denying that care of a burial ground can be costly and onerous.  That being said, the consequences of chronic neglect are often much worse.

Keeping a burial ground neat and tidy will prevent alienation of the community (a potential source of support), as well as vandalism and anti-social behaviour from taking place on the site.  Sensitivity to relatives of the deceased will encourage further burials and help to manage reputational risk.

Practical Tips

  • It is important to have in place a long term plan outlining the maintenance requirements of the burial ground in question.  This may include grass cutting, planting and upkeep of flowers, care of trees and shrubs and maintenance of boundary and internal walls, gates and fences.  Health and safety concerns should be paramount and a risk management approach must be taken.
  • Other denominations have had some success in recruiting ‘Friends of,’ groups of volunteers to help maintain the grounds.  The National Federation of Cemetery Friends offers guidance on setting up such groups.
  • Where a burial ground is an eyesore or poses a particular risk, consider hiring a local person to do the work if practicable.  In either case, ultimate responsibility for the burial ground will still rest with the Managing Trustees.  Some organisations, such as the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, provide training courses in burial ground management.
  • Other denominations in rural areas recommend keeping sheep or goats on the grounds to keep grass trimmed.  If so, Managing Trustees may require a licence (often free) and health and safety concerns (the risk of escape, flowers placed by graves being eaten, etc.) must be borne in mind.
  • Responsibility for the maintenance of burial grounds can be transferred to Local Authorities under the Open Spaces Act 1906.  Unlike for Anglican Burial Grounds, this is completely discretionary: indeed, the Church has unsuccessfully lobbied on this in the past.  Even so, it is not unheard of and may be more likely in areas that are lacking other community spaces.
  • Ensure that burial grounds are considered as part of quinquennial inspections.   Ask your Surveyor to comment on their general state, as well as the safety of monuments, boundary walls, fences and trees.  Ensure that s/he can identify Japanese Knotweed.
  • If maintenance of the burial ground may not be feasible in the long term, consider preventing further burials on the site.  This will simplify matters if the burial ground is eventually disposed of or sold by way of the grant of a long lease. Gently inform relatives of the deceased of the possible repercussions of choosing to bury their loved one in a Methodist burial ground.  They must be made aware that the Church is generally not legally obliged to accommodate their wishes, even where their family members are also buried there.
  • If Managing Trustees do see fit to allow further burials, it is vital that a careful record is kept of who is buried where.

Other sources

Please note that the law which applies to Methodist Burial Grounds differs from the law in respect of Anglican cemeteries. 

This guidance note is no substitute for seeking legal advice.  
October 2021

5. Churches - Electrical Installation Inspection (every 5 years)

Everyone should be aware that electrical installations need to be checked from time to time to ensure that they are safe. The following comments are intended to help Managing Trustees understand the position – but, as always, please remember that it is essential that trustees keep abreast of changes and obtain independent professional advice whenever necessary (the architect or surveyor who carries out your quinquennial inspections should be able to advise you further).  The legal and technical information should always be consulted for full details.

It is important to remember the distinction between the electrical installation (Item 1 below), and portable electrical appliances (Item 2), which are covered by different regulations.

From January 2005, electrical work in manses (i.e. domestic property) has been subject to Building Regulations consent – Approved Document P (Electrical Safety).  The current addition was published in 2010 and revised in 2013 and can be found here.

1. Electrical installations 

The Institute of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations, which have been adopted as a British Standard, require that all fixed installations be tested for safety at least once every 5 years (unless they fall into the categories below).  Although this is not a mandatory document, it is normally a requirement of insurance policies and Health & Safety risk assessments that recommendations in this document are followed. 

Installations should also be tested and examined after major rewiring or alterations to the installation. 

A competent person registered with an electrical self-certification scheme authorised by the Secretary of State should carry out these tests. The professional bodies which currently authorises who are registered electricians for domestic electrical work are: 

They will provide:

  • A written report Periodic Inspection Report for an Electrical Installation. 
  • The certificate, test results schedule and inspection report, as applicable, should all be kept with the log-book.
  • State when the electrical installation should next be tested and examined. 

The table below provides guidance on the frequency of formal inspections of electrical installations as well as routine checks.

Type of installation  Routine check Maximum period
between inspections and testing

(see notes below)


Change of occupancy / yearly 5 years 1

Church installations

1 year 5 years (Quinquennially) 2

Village halls /
Community centres

1 year 5 years 1,2

Emergency lighting

Daily / monthly 3 years 2,3,4

Fire alarms

 Daily / weekly / monthly 1 year 2,4,5

Reference key

  1. Particular attention must be taken to comply with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/2665). 
  2. S1 1988 N0 635 The Electricity at Work Regulations. 
  3. See BS5266: Part 1: 1988 Code of practice for the emergency lighting. 
  4. Other intervals are recommended for testing operation of batteries and generators. 
  5. See BS 5839 Part 1: 2013 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings and Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises

Please note: 
After testing the above installations the competent person may determine the maximum period between inspections should be less than those stated.

The ‘routine check’ should be carried out by someone who is competent to understand the electrical system, but need not be electrically skilled. The check should look for any wear and deterioration, missing parts, correct labelling, security of enclosures and operation of test buttons etc.  Notes about this ‘routine check’ should be included in the log book.

You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy, Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes – tel: 0161 833 9698. 

Updated February 2019


6. Churches - Empty Properties

If a building continues to remain empty, then there are a few simple steps to take to ensure ongoing security, safety and condition of the property.  These include:

  1. Weekly Inspection - An individual from  property team (or individuals on a rota basis) to visit once a week to make an internal and external inspection.  
  2. Communication - Ensure that communication is maintained between parties and that local Circuit and District policies are adhered to during this time.  As well, be aware of lone working practices and government guidance on social distancing. 

  3. Security - Ensure that all perimeter fences/railings/gates, security lighting and other deterrents to thieves (particularly lead theft) are maintained or repaired.   Ensure that all CCTV is working and notices are in place.  Smaller rural churches might check if local neighbours, neighbourhood watch or wider CCTV coverage can be asked to also monitor the property (where practical).

  4. Outside the building - Check the gutters, flashings, downpipes and gullies are not blocked/damaged from ground level and where practical.  Check for any break-ins or vandalism.  
  5. Church grounds - If the grass is mowed using the church's equipment, it should be sanitised after use.   

    Caring for God's Acre has some advice on allowing natural wild flowers and how to minimising the amount of mowing that is needed.

  6. Inside the building - check for any leaks to the mains water supply, other pipes running through out the building and the heating radiators/pipes.  As well, it is advisable to run the hot and cold taps for 5 minutes in order to prevent legionella.  If a manse is empty, it is recommended to remove shower heads as well. 

  7. Heating - It would be beneficial to ensure that some heating is retained in the building to avoid any issues with pipes bursting.  A minimum of 7° Celsius is recommended.  
  8. Weekly Checks - If the fire alarm or fire detection system is normally checked weekly, then test it.  If there is a mechanical organ, it would beneficial to play for 15 minutes to keep the moving parts clean and from sticking (see below for detailed steps).  
  9. Post - Collect the post if not redirection or suspended. 
  10. Leaving - When leaving the church, ensure that all doors, windows and other points of access are secured.

If you have any concerns, please liaise with your District Property Secretary or Circuit Property Steward.   


For a church with a larger or mechanically complex organ, prolonged lack of use will result in long-term problems with its performance.  If an organist is available in the neighbourhood, then they can practise to keep all the action parts moving.  If an organist is not available, then the person performing the weekly inspection could carrying out the following steps:

  1. Switch the organ on (consult with your regular organist, as every instrument is different)
  2. Pull out all the stops (or press them down, if the instrument has stop tabs)
  3. One at a time, press every key (black and white) on each keyboard of the instrument, and all of the pedals. Note that the organ operates differently from a piano; keys should be pressed rather than struck.
  4. If any faults occur, such as notes not sounding, or continuing to sound after the key has been released, make a note and consult with your organist or organ tuner.
  5. Cancel all stops by pushing them in (or up for stop tabs).
  6. Switch off the organ.

The purpose of this is to run through all the stops on all keyboards, and the pedalboard to keep leatherwork from sticking and keep electrical contacts clean. 


The following actions are suggested:

  • Notify the local police to report the crime 

  • Notify your property insurer of a potential claim, for example Methodist Insurance and Ecclesiastical


If your church is known to have bats, then hopefully surfaces will have been covered.  Ideally a church building with bats that affect worship areas will not be open to anyone until it has had a thorough clean, which will have to wait until multiple people are able to safely enter, and appropriate PPE has been sourced.

Any works carried out will be subject to the usual legislation relating to bat conservation and if the trustees are concerned about its bat population then do call the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228

*Updated 10 December 2020


7. Churches - Fire Extinguisher (every year)

The Fire Extinguisher Service contract for churches operated by Chubb Fire Limited - National Accounts Division Manchester, has been extended until May 2023

Any new premises wishing to participate in this agreement must apply through the below address, via post, telephone,  or email.  Contact details as follows:
Chubb Fire & Security Ltd
National Accounts
United Technologies House
Shadsworth Business Park
Shadsworth Raod
Blackburn BB1 2PR
Email –

If the following details could be provided to enable them to add your premises to the Churches contract:

  • The full name and address with postcode for the invoice
  • The name and telephone number of the contact to arrange access to site
  • The name and address of the site that is to be serviced
  • The due month in which the service is required

On receipt of this correspondence they will arrange to visit your premises.  Subsequent to each annual service carried out, any recommendations for replacement or additional extinguishers will be forwarded to you for your approval.         

  • £6.25 each - Service Inspection of all portable fire extinguishers in accordance with BS5306 Part 3 including the provision of all parts, refilling at the time of service, discharge testing and recharging. 
  • £0.50p - Inspection of fire blankets (if carried out whilst on site servicing the extinguishers)     
  • £1.50  - Service Attendance Fee
  • £12.00  - Minimum invoice value per location for servicing   

The £6.25 inspection charge should be considered over a five year period to include the discharge tests and re-charges as per the British Standard recommendations. The above service price excludes Nu-Swift spare parts, refilling and extinguisher bodies.
Emergency Call Outs
£6.25 per extinguisher 
£5.00 Call Out Attendance Fee
£12.00 Minimum invoice charge
Supplying of Equipment
Supplied fit for purpose with a wall bracket and inclusive of delivery charges

Type of Extinguisher:        
6 litre Foam Extinguisher       £40.15 
2 kg CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)   £50.50 
1.2m x 1.2m Fire Blanket        £16.53
Every Extinguisher supplied is subject to initial inspection charge    £6.25
Fixing of the extinguisher to the wall, if requested    £2.76
When an extinguisher is removed from site, due to being surplus to requirement or being replaced with new one, there will be a charge of £3.00 per extinguisher to allow for the transportation & safe disposal of the contents due to environmental regulations.   

Please note that all above prices will be held until May 2023. 
All prices quoted are nett and exclusive of VAT. Value Added Tax will be charged at the current standard rate.  This proposal is based on Chubb Fire & Security Ltd. standard terms and conditions a copy of which is available on request from their offices.
Churches should ensure that when dealing with Chubb they are on the National Account Contract as agreements with Chubb’s local offices can be more expensive. Further information on fire risks generally can be found on the Methodist Insurance webpages here: 

Updated May 2021

8. Churches - Fire Risk Assessment (every year)

For Church Premises
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - see also HSE's guidance on Fire Safety and the Methodist Insurance guidance on Fire Safety.  
The Fire Safety Order replaces most fire legislation with one simple order.  It means that any person who has some level of control in the premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.
If you previously carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997, as amended 1999, and this assessment has been regularly reviewed, then all you will need to do now is to carry out another review taking account of those issues not covered by these Regulations. The Regulations apply to virtually all premises, every type of building, structure and open space. They do not apply to private dwellings.
The Fire Safety Order applies in England and Wales. It covers ‘general fire precautions’ and other fire safety duties, which are needed to protect ‘relevant’ persons in case of fire in and around most ‘premises’.  The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 has similar regulations.
The order requires fire precautions to be put in place ‘where necessary’ and to the extent that it is ‘reasonable and practical’ in the circumstances of the case.
Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the ‘Responsible Person’.  In a workplace this would normally be the employer or any person who may have control of any part of the premises.
Those legally responsible for churches, ie the Managing Trustees who constitute the Church Council or similar, are classed as the employer and will be responsible for appointing a ‘Responsible Person’ who should carry out the Risk Assessment on behalf of the Trustees or Church Councils who are legally responsible for the implementation of the Fire Safety Order.

The Order does not require that a ‘qualified’ person has to carry out the Risk Assessment.  In most cases this can be achieved without the need for any specialist or formal knowledge or training. The Managing Trustees can appoint one or more ‘Competent Persons’ to assist them, and depending on the size of the premises, to carry out the preventative and protective measures required by the Order.  The ‘Responsible Person’ ie the Managing Trustee body can nominate one of their number or other specific named person for this purpose. 
Fire risk assessment principles
The Fire Safety Order requires you to:

  1. Carry out a risk assessment identifying any possible dangers or risks 
  2. Consider who may be especially at risk 
  3. Remove or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left 
  4. Provide:
    • Means for detecting and giving a warning in case of fire
    • Means of escape and emergency lighting
    • Fire safety signs and  fire fighting equipment 
    • Monitor and review the risk assessment and revise as appropriate
    • Inform staff or their representative of the risks and provide training 
    • Plan for an emergency and record your findings.

Who enforces the Fire Safety Order?

The local Fire and Rescue Authority will enforce the order in most premises.
They have the power to inspect your premises to check that you are complying with your duties under the Fire Safety Order.  They will look for evidence that you have carried out a suitable fire risk assessment and acted upon the significant findings of that assessment.  If you have 5 or more employees you are required to keep a copy of the assessment.
 In many premises the responsible person will be obvious but there may be times when a number of people will have some responsibility.  In Church premises outside groups who hire the premises are also required to carry out their own assessments and the responsible person should ensure they have done so.
If the enforcing authority is dissatisfied with the outcome of your risk assessment or the action you have taken, they may issue an Enforcement Notice that requires you to make certain improvements or, in extreme cases, a Prohibition Notice that restricts the use of all or part of your premises until improvements are made.
Failure to comply with any duty imposed by the Order or any Notice issued by the enforcing authority is an offence. You have the right of appeal to a Magistrate’s Court against any Notice issued.  Where you agree that there is a need for improvements to your fire precautions but disagree with the enforcing authority on the technical solution (e.g. what type of fire alarm system is needed), you may agree to refer this for an independent determination.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

 A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.
The aims are to:

  • Identify the hazards, reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as is reasonably practicable. 
  • To decide what physical fire precautions and management policies are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your building if a fire does start. 

The term “Risk” means the chance of that harm occurring.
The term “Hazard” means anything that has the potential to cause harm.
If you have five or more employees, then the significant findings of the risk assessment, the actions taken and details of anyone especially at risk must be recorded.  It will be helpful to keep a record even if you are not required to do so.
 How to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment

A fire risk assessment will help you determine the chances of a fire starting and the dangers from fire that your premises present for the people who use them and any person in the immediate vicinity.  The assessment method suggested in this guide shares the same approach as that used in general Health and Safety Legislation.
Much of the information for your risk assessment will come from the knowledge you have along with your colleagues of the premises, as well as information given to you by people who have responsibility for other parts of the building.  A tour of the premises will be needed to confirm, amend or add detail to your initial views.
It must take the whole of your premises into account, including outdoor locations.  If the premises are small you may be able to assess them as a whole.  In larger premises you may find it helpful to divide them into rooms or a series of assessment areas using natural boundaries, eg worship or assembly rooms, corridors, stairways and external routes.
Your fire risk assessment should demonstrate that, as far as is reasonable, you have considered the needs of disabled people.
There are five steps to a risk assessment

  1. Identify fire hazard 
  2. Identify people at risk 
  3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk 
  4. Record, plan, instruct, inform and train 
  5. Review

Further advice and information
HSE guidance on Fire Safety
Scotland's Legislation on Fire and Rescue Methodist Insurance Fire Safety information

Published October 2014

9. Churches - Food Safety and Kitchen Hygiene

Please refer to for the latest guidance and resources.

Please also refer to the Food Safety guidance on Methodist Insurance.   

For information about food safety training, please refer to or contact your local authority
Kitchen hygiene requirements, and UK laws and legislation
On 1 January 2006, a number of new food hygiene regulations came into force in the UK.
The layout, design, construction, site and size of your premises must

  • Allow adequate maintenance, cleaning and/or disinfection 
  • Avoid or minimise air-borne contamination (ie contamination carried in the air) 
  • Provide enough working space for you to carry out all tasks hygienically 
  • Protect against the build-up of dirt, contact with toxic materials, shedding of particles into food and forming of condensation or mould on surfaces 
  • Allow good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and, in particular, pest control
  • Provide, where necessary, suitable conditions for handling and storing food while keeping it at appropriate temperatures, designed to allow those temperatures to be monitored and, where necessary, recorded. 

Handwashing Facilities and Toilets

  • Washbasins for cleaning hands must have hot and cold running water, and materials for cleaning hands and for hygienic drying. Preferably wash-hand basins should be lever, elbow, knee or automatically operated to avoid contamination.

  • Water should be stored at or above 60 degrees Celsius to avoid Legionella contamination 

  • Water, at the point of use at a kitchen sink, should be limited to no more than 46-48 degrees Celsius to ensure proper removal of grease but there may a risk of scalding at these temperatures if hands are immersed for even a short time, say within 30 seconds on skin with reduced thickness. A safe hand washing temperature as recommended by the NHS is 41 degrees Celsius.

  • A wash-hand basin should be fitted at a recommended height to top of basin of between 770 and 840 mm.

  • Where necessary, you should have a separate sink for washing food.

  • Adequate drying provisions should be provided, such as hand dryers (preferably a new generation hand dryer which does not circulate the dirty air, such as the Dyson Airblade).  Hand towels, hand towel roll or cotton roller towels can be used. 

 Insect Screens

  • Windows opening directly into food preparation areas must be fitted with screens capable of resisting common flying insects 

  • Insect screens must be removable to allow for cleaning 

  • Kitchen doors which open to the outside air and which are opened for lengthy periods must also be suitably screened using a close-fitting insect-proof screen door

  • Doors can be fitted with PVC screen curtains, mesh curtains, chain screens or preferably neatly fitting screen doors

Electronic Fly Killing Devices

  • Flying insects can be destroyed using an electronic fly-killing device. 
  • Fly killer units need to be positioned in an area where they will have the greatest range around the kitchen. 
  • They should not be placed in an area where they will be subject to draughts which could dislodge debris from the killing grid or catch tray. 
  • They should also not be placed above or close to areas where food is stored or prepared in case of blow-out from the fly killer. 
  • Glueboard fly killers are preferable in areas of high risk. They catch the flies on the glue board and hold them permanently. Manufacturers will give advice on the location, cleaning and maintenance of this type of equipment. 

Waste Management

  • You must put food waste and other rubbish in containers that can be closed, unless you can satisfy your local authority that other types of containers or systems of disposing of waste are appropriate. These containers must be of appropriate construction, kept in sound condition, be easy to clean and, where necessary, easy to disinfect. 

  • You must have adequate facilities for storing and disposing of food waste and other rubbish. Stores for waste must be designed and managed in a way that enables them to be kept clean and, where necessary, kept free of animals and pests. 

  • You must get rid of all waste in a hygienic and environmentally friendly way, in accordance with EU legislation. (There are rules about the way certain types of food waste must be collected and disposed of - contact your local authority for details.) 

  • The waste must not be a direct or indirect source of contamination (eg touching surfaces that food is prepared on, or attracting pests).

Kitchen Cleaning
Use colour-coded mops and utensils.


Kitchen Ventilation Systems (Minimum Ventilation Rates) 

  • An internal ambient air temperature of 28oC maximum
  • Maximum humidity levels of 70%
  • Internal noise level should be between NR40 - NR50
  • Dedicated make up air system to be approximately 85% of the extract flow rate 
  • Minimum of 40 air changes per hour (based on canopy and general room extraction). 

Minimum Requirements for Canopy: Velocity Requirements

  • Light loading - 0.25 m/s (applies to steaming ovens, boiling pans, bains marie and stock-pot stoves). 
  • Medium loading - 0.35 m/s (applies to deep fat fryers, bratt pans, solid and open top ranges and griddles).
  • Heavy loading - 0.5 m/s (applies to chargrills, mesquite and specialist broiler units).

Material of Construction

  • A material that would comply with the food hygiene requirement is stainless steel.

Grease Filtration

Have a minimum performance the same as a baffle filter and be easy to clean.  

 Minimum Requirements for Duct Work

  • All ductwork should be low pressure Class A and constructed in accordance with HVCA Specification DW/144[1] with a minimum thickness of 0.8 mm

Minimum Requirements for Odour Control Objectives

  • For new premises or premises covered by planning conditions restricting the impact of odour the system shall be designed to prevent harm to the amenity. 

  • For existing premises not covered by planning conditions restricting the impact of odour, the system shall be designed to avoid statutory nuisance and shall comply with the principles of Best Practical Means.  

  • To achieve these objectives, the odour control system shall include an adequate level of odour control and stack dispersion. 

 Published October 2014 / updated January 2022 to include information links

10. Churches - Gas Inspection (every year)

Inspection and testing

Gas must be treated with respect.  It can escape and silently poison or even cause catastrophic explosions, so it must be carefully managed.  Meeting the legislation and standards for gas safety is not easy but duty holders must make sure they understand them.
The Law
 Gas safety legislation stems from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Added to this act are specific regulations: Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996, Gas Safety (Management)
Regulations 1996, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and five more.
Other legislation for gas includes: the Gas Acts 1986 and 1995, Gas Appliance (Safety) Regulations 1995 and Building Regulations and Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations.
Codes and standards

In addition to the above, there are ACOPs (Approved Codes of Practice) for gas that support the legislation, plus the relevant British Standards totalling 72, which cover flues, valves, meters and regulators, tubing and appliances.
Knowing, understanding and following these 72 separate standards is an onerous task, yet this is what is required for compliance. As it states in the Gas Safety Regulations 1998: the code has special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault.

The essential phrase to consider is in Part F of Regulation 35:
It shall be the duty of every employer or self-employed person to ensure that any gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.
Regulation 4 qualifies that this means taking reasonable steps to ensure that the person undertaking the work is, or is employed by, a ‘class of persons’ approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In other words the person undertaking the work must be registered with Gas Safe and qualified to the appropriate ACOPs for the specific job in hand.

In 2009, the Corgi gas registration scheme was replaced in the UK by the Gas Safe Register: the official body for gas safety in UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey, run by Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary Services.

 The sole focus of the register is on improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards. Gas Safe holds the only official list of 120,000 gas engineers legally able to perform gas work on boilers, hobs, ovens, fires and all other gas appliances. Anyone carrying out gas work must have a Gas Safe Register ID card. If not, they – and you – are breaking the law.

The route to legislative compliance begins with risk assessment, as recommended by the HSE, to establish hazards and necessary precautions. That assessment should inform what is subsequently done in terms of a test regime and maintenance schedule. It should be conducted according to that assessment and in line with regulations and ACOPs.
For gas this means ANNUAL inspection and test of gas appliances, pipework and flues in every type of property, other than private domestic, but including manses which, for the purposes of the legislation, are deemed to be occupied by ‘tenants’ with the circuit as ‘landlord’.
Test and inspection is not often where compliance is completed; it’s where the process starts. For gas, that’s easier said than done because of the complex Corgi legacy: there are many, many ACOPs for gas and it is essential to establish that the engineer conducting the assessment is qualified for the specific item or situation.
For example, an engineer qualified to inspect domestic gas appliances may not be suitably qualified for commercial appliances, while an engineer qualified to assess one grade of pipework may not be qualified to assess other grades.  In fact, there is training and qualifications for every one of the 72 ACOPs.
It is extremely complicated and requires both awareness and diligence on the part of the duty holder. If an accident were to occur and the HSE to investigate, one of the first things they would scrutinise would be the specific qualifications of the gas engineer.  So it is advisable to check the engineer’s registration card before allowing access and verifying the details on the Gas Safe online register to establish that the individual’s specific qualifications match every aspect of your site’s specific requirement.
 Compliance on a budget
Get competitive, comparative quotes or tenders. Don’t be fooled by cut price testing where charges are loaded on remedial repairs. 
Use flexibility to your advantage; plan in advance and build all the timing and site access flexibility in that you can to claim competitive pricing. 
Negotiate a longer contract for testing that will span three, four or five years. You are sure to get preferential pricing. 
Link the buying of your gas safety requirements to electrical testing and other services to maximise your buying power. 
Source a supplier with multi-skilled engineers; it could mean less time on your site and hence reductions in cost to you. 
Useful sources
Official register of qualified gas engineers -
 Health and Safety Executive  (a source of advice and legal information about health and safety in the workplace)  -
This guidance is intended to give an overview of some of the main pieces of legislation that cover many workplaces.
Further information can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); in particular: (for landlords’ (circuits’) duties) (for gas safety in catering and hospitality) (for ventilation of kitchens for catering)
You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy (Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes.  
Published October 2014


11. Churches - Legionella

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. This includes the most serious Legionnaires’ Disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection.

 Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems (e.g. rivers and ponds).   However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, spa pools, and hot water systems used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).

 Infection is caused by inhaling small droplets of water, suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella, including:

  • water temperature between 20–45 °C, which is suitable for growth

  • creating and spreading breathable droplets of water, e.g. aerosol created by water outlets such as shower heads

  • stored and/or re-circulated water

  • a source of nutrients for the organism e.g. presence of sludge, scale or fouling.

 All employers, or someone in control of premises (Managing Trustees), and this includes manses, should understand the health risks associated with legionella and have a duty of care.  We are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella.

 Identify and assess sources of risk

There is a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment.  People may be competent to carry out the assessment themselves but, if not, they should call on help and advice from either property professionals or from outside sources, e.g. consultancies.

They or the person responsible for managing risks, need to understand their water systems, the equipment associated with the system such as pumps, heat exchangers, showers etc, and the constituent parts, to identify whether they are likely to create a risk from exposure to legionella, and whether:

  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system

  • the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20–45 °C

  • there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matters

  • the conditions are likely to encourage bacteria to multiply

  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be dispersed over a wide area, e.g. showers and aerosols

  • it is likely that any of your employees, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets.

 The risk assessment should include:

  • management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system,
  • this would usually be a steward or a named trustee

  • the description could include a simple diagram of the water system, it should show the hot and cold pipes and outlets (don’t forget to include any toilet cisterns), the boiler (if any), any storage tank and any ‘dead legs’ which are pipes that have been cut off and where water does not flow (such as when you remove a tap and just cap the pipe).
  • any potential risk sources,
  • this should include any tanks, heaters or air conditioning. It should also identify shower or spray heads
  • any controls currently in place to control risks
  • this might include water treatments, running of taps, showers and heads after a period of non-use, labelling and the removal of dead legs (where practical)
  • monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures
  • a yearly review
  • records of the monitoring results and inspection and checks carried out

  • a review date.

 Most of our premises are very low risk with simple water systems; it becomes more complicated where you may have any air conditioning system or any cooling towers.  If you do have a cooling tower, please get in touch with the Property Support Team at Methodist Church House.

 If it is decided that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, the assessment is complete. No further action need be taken, but it is important that the assessment is reviewed periodically in case of changes to the system.

 All employers, or persons in control of premises, must appoint someone competent to assist with compliance with health and safety duties, i.e. take responsibility for managing the scheme.   A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage and control the scheme effectively. 

 If it is decided to employ contractors to carry out water treatment or other work, it is still the responsibility of the competent person to ensure that the treatment is carried out to the required standards. 

 A full risk assessment should be carried out at least every two years or when the system has been changed (e.g. a new sink fitted).

 Consideration should be given whether the risk of legionella can be prevented in the first place by consideration of the type of water system required. The key point is to design, maintain and operate water services under conditions that prevent or adequately control the growth and multiplication of legionella.

Keeping records

If the organisation has five or more employees any significant findings have to be recorded, including any groups of employees identified by it as being particularly at risk and the steps taken to prevent or control risks.

If there are less than five employees, it is still useful to keep a written record of action taken.

Records should include details of

  1. the person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and implementing the written scheme

  2. significant findings of the risk assessment

  3. written control scheme and details of its implementation

  4. results of any inspection, test or check carried out, and the dates

  5. the state of operation of the system (i.e. in use or not in use).

These records should be retained throughout the period for which they remain current and for at least two years after that period.

Further information and guidance can be obtained from the HSE website with their FAQs  and Legionella and Landlord’s Responsibility.

Manses and ‘Let’ Properties 

Please refer to the section on 'Legionella' on the Guidelines for Manses.  

 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 church buildings 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

12. Churches - PAT testing (6 months - 4 years)

Everyone should be aware that electrical installations need to be checked from time to time to ensure that they are safe. The following comments are intended to help Managing Trustees understand the position – but, as always, please remember that it is essential that trustees keep abreast of changes and obtain independent professional advice whenever necessary (the architect or surveyor who carries out your quinquennial inspections should be able to advise you further).  The legal and technical information should always be consulted for full details.

It is important to remember the distinction between the electrical installation (tab above), and portable electrical appliances (below), which are covered by different regulations.

Portable electrical equipment

The following guidance has been prepared by the Health and safety Executive ( in order to help employers and the self employed comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989:

What is Portable Electrical Equipment? 

Generally any piece of electrical equipment which has a plug fitted, e.g. kettles, heaters, computers, photocopiers, extension leads. 

What does the law require me to do? 

The law requires portable electrical equipment to be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. This includes adhering to the guidance on testing and examination. Further information can be found in the following Health and Safety Executive document: 

Do I need to have every piece of electrical equipment electrically tested? 

Not every piece of equipment requires testing. A simple and inexpensive system for looking for visual signs of damage or faults will control most of the electrical risks. However, some appliances (refer to practical guidance) may require more thorough testing such as earth bond, continuity, insulation, earth leakage and flash testing. 

What can I do? 
The appliance should be switched off before looking for signs of:

  • damage, e.g. cuts or abrasion to cable leads 
  • damage to the plug (e.g. casing cracks or bent pins) 
  • on-standard joints e.g. twisted taped joints or leads badly extended 
  • the outer covering (sheath of cable not being gripped where it enters the plug or the equipment, i.e. where the internal wires are showing) 
  • damage to the outer cover of the equipment, loose or missing parts. Any damaged or suspected faulty equipment should be taken out of service until it has been suitably repaired or replaced. 

Who can carry out the testing? 

Any qualified electrician can carry out these tests – e.g. an approved contractor from the electrical self-certification scheme (see (1) above). 

How would I be able to demonstrate to the Environment Directorate that I have complied with the law? 

Your copies of test certificates and records would verify this, and may prove crucial in the event of an inspection or litigation. 

Practical guidance: suggested initial intervals

Equipment/environment  User checks Formal visual inspections Combined inspection and testing
Battery operated: (less than 20 Volts No No No
Extra low voltage: (less than 50 volts AC e.g. telephone, low voltage desk lights No No No
Information technology, e.g. desktop computers, VDU screens. No Yes, 2-4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Photocopiers, fax machines, rarely moved No Yes, 2 - 4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Double insulated equipment: NOT hand held. Moved occasionally, e.g. fans, table lamps, projectors No Yes, 2 - 4 years No
Double insulated equipment: HAND-HELD e.g. some floor cleaners Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year No
Earthed equipment (Class 1): e.g. electric kettles, toasters Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year Yes, 1 - 2 years
Cables (leads) and plugs connected to the above. Extension leads (mains voltage) Yes Yes, 6 months to 4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected Yes, 1 - 5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected


You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy, Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes – tel: 0161 833 9698. 

Updated February 2019

13. Churches - Risk Assessments

General points
The law on this issue is complex, and what follows is our understanding, which may be subject to a different interpretation, particularly in the light of an individual situation or further case law.  It is not authoritative and is given for information only.  Managing Trustees are advised to engage their own professionals to ensure the law is being complied with.
The law is regularly being modified and enlarged - it is essential for Managing Trustees to update themselves on this topic.
A complementary package of information,  including Health & Safety Self-Assessment for Churches is available from Methodist Insurance.
Local authorities often produce guidance notes on this topic, and it may be worth contacting them to discuss the position.
The regulations apply to all church premises, including manses if they are visited by church members or the public.
Connexional information is largely based on the guidelines on Managing for Health & Safety produced by Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Both the regulations and guidance notes on how to comply with the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) are covered in detail.  MHSW also overlaps with other legislation, particularly those relating to fire precautions, and others such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
Fire Risk Assessments are dealt with in the 'Fire Risk Assessment' section.   
Principles of risk assessment
The government has stated that the general principle behind risk assessment is that all users of the building should examine their work activities (whether paid or voluntary) to identify any risks to health and safety.  Any distinctions between employer, employee, self-employed, or volunteer are to be disregarded, and it is also essential to consult with other groups that use the premises.

The MHSW regulations are not intended to be prescriptive - that is, they do not lay down detailed requirements; the intention is that everyone is expected to help himself/herself to identify and reduce risks, where reasonable, and to keep themselves up to date with relevant information.
Compliance with the MHSW is deemed to be sufficient to comply with the law, although alternative procedures are also acceptable. In the event of any prosecution, the Managing Trustees will need to show how they have complied with the law.
Strictly speaking, where there are fewer than five employees, the risk assessment does not have to be in writing, but our view is that it is always preferable for the assessment to be written down and recorded in the log book or relevant minute book.
Local authorities have the legal right to inspect church premises, and to require work to be carried out if considered necessary - this is why we suggest that a previously agreed, written and recorded risk assessment is so useful.
Responsibility cannot be passed on to a third party (eg by stating that a builder is to be entirely responsible for health and safely matters during building works).
If there is any doubt about who is responsible for health and safety matters, this must be clarified.
What is a ‘risk assessment’?
A risk assessment should be a “systematic general examination of the effect of their undertaking, their work activities and the condition of the premises” and should cover the following points:

  • identify how risks arise - identify hazards 
  • how they impact on those affected 
  • how risks are managed so that decisions are made in an “informed, rational and structured manner”.

A ‘hazard’ is something with the potential to cause harm; a ‘risk’ is the likelihood of potential harm from that hazard.
The assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still current and covers any change in risk.  It needs only to include what it is reasonably expected should be known, and is not expected to include unforeseeable risks. 

Managing Trustees should appoint a competent person to assist in preparing the risk assessment and other health and safety matters (regulation 7).  A ‘competent person’ is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge to undertake the necessary duties.  Managing Trustees may wish to obtain further advice from their architect or surveyor who carries out their quinquennial inspections, or from their insurance company.
The regulations stress that the level of detail in a risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk; for many people using modern church premises, the level of risk should be low.  The risk will rise where particular equipment is used, for instance in kitchens, or where electrical or heating equipment is handled.  For older buildings, more specific risks may need to be identified, for instance, long flights of stairs, uneven surfaces etc. Particular care will need to be taken in connection with towers, ladders and access to roofs and similar possible hazards.  Other aspects that may need particular attention are those involving young people, pregnant women and old people.
MHSW states: “There are no fixed rules about how a risk assessment should be carried out”. However, a risk assessment should:

  1. ensure significant risks are addressed 
  2. ensure all risks of the work activity are reviewed (including homeworkers and those visiting the public in their own homes) 
  3. take account of non-routine activities (eg maintenance and emergencies)
  4. be systematic and structured. 

Managing Trustees should also consider providing health and safety training for stewards and others, particularly in relation to fire drills and other emergencies. Occasional use of the premises by large groups may need particular 

Published October 2014

14. Churches - Quinquennial Inspection Report (every 5 years)

Click here to view the guidance on Quinquennial Inspections.  

15. CO2 / Smoke Detector

Please contact the Property Support Team.

16. Log Book

Templates for a log book can be downloaded here.  

Suggested list of items for inclusion in the logbook:  
Churches & Chapels: 

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist.   
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Links addresses to Consents web site -
  • Link to Property pages on Methodist website - 
  • Quinquennial inspection reports 
  • Details of any building work carried out, eg:
    • original enquiry, 
    • architects/surveyors letters etc
    • quotations/tenders
    • invoices/certificates etc o planning/building regulations consents
    • consent under Sec 98 CPD (Listed Building Works), if required
    • practical completion certificate & final certificate 
  • Electrical inspection reports 
  • Maintenance agreements, eg:
    • annual roof maintenance/clearing of gutters
    • heating 
    • gas installation
    • fire alarms
    • fire extinguishers
    • lightning conductors 
  • Details of quinquennial inspector 
  • Plans of the church and other drawings 
  • Drainage layouts 
  • Photographs of building 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Fire risk assessment (as required by 2005 fire safety regs) 
  • Asbestos report (2nd copy may need to be kept elsewhere, as this may be required by fire brigade in event of fire) 
  • Disabled access reports (the ‘Access Audit’) 
  • Insurance documents 
  • Old insurance cover notes (which legally have to be kept for 40 years) 
  • Legal agreements (eg licences, party wall agreements, easements etc) 
  • Public Entertainment licences (or letter confirming one is not necessary)

Length of time for keeping records The Methodist Church publication Guidance of Best Practice in Retaining Records is available on the Methodist website -

Although there is legally no landlord/tenant relationship, manses should be treated as accommodation to be “rented” to the incumbent by the Circuit as “landlord” and some of the Landlord and Tenant Act requirements will apply. 

Members of the public have access (albeit by invitation) and Part M of the Building Regulations (access and use of buildings) will apply for any alteration and improvement work to the Ground Floor together with access drives and pathways. 

  • 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

Property rented out

Trustees should be aware that there may be additional obligations, required by the Landlord and Tenant Act and other legislation.

Updated June 2018

17. Manses - 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.   

18. Manses - Electrical Inspections (every 5 years)

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

19. Manses - 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.
20. Manses - Legionella Inspection

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

21. Manses - Quinquennial Inspections (every 5 years)
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.
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.  

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