Could you maximise income through hiring out school property?
We look at an example of utilising school land and property, and how the school and academy trust should act.
The local junior football club call to ask if they can use the brand new 4G football pitch at the school for a couple of hours every Thursday evening during term time. Of course this is an attractive arrangement which would benefit the local community and generate a little extra income.
What should the school and academy trust do?
Make sure arrangements are properly documented from the start to avoid issues further down the line. There should be a lettings policy and standard hiring terms set by the School Governing Body or Academy Trust if an academy. First check who can authorise a new hire agreement (is this a trustees' decision, Local Governors or the head teacher?). Put in place a hire agreement which makes clear the terms on which the property can be used which both parties should sign:
- What, when and how? Which part of the school property can the hirer use, during what times and for how long, and for what purpose?
- Charges - Remember to cover all costs the school may incur such as heating, lighting, additional caretaking services and any admin costs. What charges are due and when should they be paid?
The standard terms should cover
- Liability – make it clear the hirer will be responsible for any damage caused to the school property and any school equipment they may use during the period of hire. The hirer should also be responsible for maintaining insurance cover as relevant to the particular use including third party liability.
- Health and Safety – give details of any procedures affecting the property to be followed in an emergency and make sure you have emergency contact details for the hirer.
- Compliance –the hirer should be responsible for compliance with applicable regulations
- Safeguarding – consider safeguarding implications arising and requirements that supervisors are appropriately DBS checked.
This list is not exhaustive, just some of the basics that should be contained in the standard lettings documents.
Keep arrangements under review
Remember to issue fresh hire agreements at the beginning of each school year, or periodically as required depending on the period of hire.
Remember hire agreements should not be used for arrangements involving long term use and/or exclusive use of any part of the school property by a third party. It is vital that leases and statutory rights of occupation are not granted inadvertently. If you're an academy to do so might breach the lease from the Local Authority, breach the Funding Agreement, and breach of Academies Financial Handbook. If you're local authority maintained and/or a church school it might breach the terms of the delegations and the LA or Diocese's schools lettings policies.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors