How much care does the Church of England take over its housing stock? I have lived in tied housing for seventeen years of my ministry so have a few insights.
The quinquennial system, a five-yearly survey, ensures that properties are maintained to a reasonable standard. They are provided unfurnished although some properties include an office/study with some church stuff in it.
We used to be provided with a cooker but I don't think this is the case any more. I will find out soon as my cooker, an intrinsic part of a fitted kitchen, is near the end of its life.
I have found that work identified by the quinquennial is carried out promptly. I have also found that any safety issues are tackled quickly too. Blocked drains, leaning walls and sharp-edges have all been rapidly fixed.
But there are gaps. My vicarage has under-cupboard lights. They kept blowing the bulbs and an electrician advised replacing them. My diocesan property department told me they took no responsibility for such lights. So I replaced them at my own expense, saving me money on bulbs but also investing in a property I do not own. It would be churlish of me to refit the dodgy lights when I leave; but I would be quite entitled to.
And so to decoration. This is left to the parish and incumbent. Generously, local churches often redecorate houses between occupants. Mine had three or four rooms plus the hall etc painted in 2006. The Diocese have a small budget (£60 a year) to cover materials, which is great if the house is occupied by people who have plenty of free-time to decorate.
1. Most parishioner decorating is competent but not thorough. Doors are not sanded and refitted. Radiators not removed to paint behind. Walls not properly cleaned, primed and prepared. My pre-moving-in gang did quite well but they are unusual.
2. Houses with a quick throughput of ministers get redecorated more often than the long-stay versions.
3. A professional quote for hall, stairs and landing has seen three workers in my house for seven days. This cost is outside the scope of most clergy and also involves a substantial investment that cannot be withdrawn on leaving.
So I just wonder if there isn't a way to maintain the interior of a vicarage better without incumbent expense?