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Home CCI > Risksupport > Unoccupied parishes and churches
Protecting empty Parish and Church buildings  

 

The COVID-19 pandemic will disrupt our regular rhythm of church life. Under the Government's instruction and in line with current social distancing protocols to slow the spread of the virus, parishes, churches and other dioceses' assets are temporarily closed during 2020.

As the Church continues to communicate with parishioners digitally and by phone, many of their buildings are now unoccupied. This means that the Church faces the reality of an increased risk to their assets in the form of potential arson, and criminal acts of vandalism or theft. Ongoing maintenance to properties and the impact of external weather events remains constant.

CCI is committed to supporting our Church clients to protect their unoccupied assets. In this article we outline common property risks arising from buildings left unoccupied for extended periods of time and some practical measures to combat them:

Know the risks

  • Physical security risks include unauthorised access, theft, vandalism, arson attacks, litter dumping, window breakage

  • Weather damage due to climatic conditions such as bushfire, storms, cyclones, flooding or wind

  • Property damage due to lack of maintenance now presents a higher risk because bathroom facilities and kitchen equipment are not in use and people are not alerting building managers to maintenance issues

Managing risks by following simple steps

1. Utilities

Consider the temporary closure of water, gas and electricity supplies by turning them off at the mains, with the exception of utilities needed for security, fire and/or other risk protection systems or devices.

2. Review security measures

Assess existing measures in place and upgrade or enhance them if needed. Important security measures include: external lighting fixtures, CCTV/surveillance cameras, intruder and fire alarms, locking systems, external grills, and sensor lighting. Speak to church property neighbours and ask them to report any suspicious activity. Review personnel who have access to the premises, along with access points where unauthorised people may enter and try to limit them as much as possible. 

3. Securely store valuable items and manage donations with care

Sacred liturgical items and vessels need to be put away in a Church safe or placed somewhere away from sight. Consider receiving donations via electronic funds transfer or find alternative ways for parishioners to make their donations to avoid cash or cheques being lost or stolen.

4. Implement an inspection routine

Respect government restrictions on movement during COVID-19 lockdowns, and when suitable have an unoccupied church property checked on a weekly basis for security and maintenance issues.

5. Adjust your maintenance practices

During the COVID-19 pandemic ensure that your maintenance program includes a check that outside areas of the building are free from fire hazards, machinery/ladders, and other equipment. These should be securely stored away. Conduct more frequent inspections of fire, security and other risk protection systems or devices.

 

Please ensure whilst implementing these measures you consider the ongoing updated government directives around COVID-19.

Find out more about managing risk here:


 


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© Catholic Church Insurance Limited (CCI) ABN 76 000 005 210, AFS Licence No. 235415, GPO Box 180 Melbourne 3001. All rights reserved. The information on this website is intended to provide a summary and general information only to clients of CCI. It does not constitute, and should not be relied on as advice or considered as a comprehensive coverage of the topics discussed. You should seek independent and professional advice that is tailored to your own circumstances. CCI will not take responsibility for any loss, damage or injury to any persons incurred by the use of content contained on this website.