Centric Community Projects is a charity that works with Landlords to offer free space to charities and community projects. These properties are largely cost free and organisations using the space will not be required to pay rent. The information below is designed to give you a little bit of information about your responsibilities as occupants of the space as well as any “hidden” costs that organisations may incur whilst using our space.
As occupants of the building, charities and organisations are legally “responsible persons”, and have a duty to protect the building and ensure its safety and the safety of those within it. This means that whilst you are using one of our properties, there are a number of responsibilities and costs that charities should be aware of. There is more information about this here.
All of the properties that we work within require fire extinguishers to be present and regularly serviced. This may mean that charities will be required to purchase fire extinguishers and arrange for them to be wall-mounted in relevant areas. Sometimes, buildings may already have fire extinguishers present. In these cases, Organisations will be required to organise and pay for these fire extinguishers to be serviced. If these fire extinguishers cannot be serviced or fail their services, organisations must pay for new ones to be purchased and installed. After their installation or first service, fire extinguishers must be serviced annually.
Fire Risk Assessments
Charities and groups using our buildings must regularly carry out Fire Risk Assessments of the property they are using. If you are a charity that shares communal space, you will need to communicate with other charities in that space to fill out a communal risk assessment, and then fill out a separate risk assessment for your private-use areas. Fire risk assessments should be completed annually and kept as a written record.
Centric Community Groups or the properties managing agent may occasionally carry out a fire drill on the property that you are in. You should familiarise yourself with your building’s fire assembly point and inform all new volunteers and staff of it’s location. It is helpful to print off this location and have it signposted around your building. In the event of a fire, all users of the building should do the following:
Immediately make your way to the nearest fire exit. Do not stop to collect bags and do not under any circumstances stop to make yourself a drink or bring a drink with you when exiting the building. When the fire alarm sounds, there is a good chance that you will not know where a fire is in the building. Seconds that pass when you’re getting your bag/coat/drink etc. may be the difference between exiting the building safely or becoming trapped inside.
When waiting outside for the building to be checked and declared safe, do not under any circumstances move away from the fire assembly point. If your location is unknown, you will be searched for within the building and in a real fire, this could cause loss of life.
If you are in change of a group during a fire alarm, you are responsible for the safety of everyone in that group. It is your duty to ensure everyone under your supervision is accounted for at the fire assembly point and to also make sure that they do not move away from the fire assembly point.
All members of staff and volunteers should be briefed and trained with this information and information about what to do in the event of a fire drill should be printed and placed in key spots around the office.
General Fire Safety
Charities and organisations using buildings have a responsibility at all times to maintain the safety of the buildings they are using. Fire doors should never be propped open, fire exits should never be blocked and fire safety equipment should never be misused. Vision panels in offices should never be blocked. If you come across any dangerous practises, you should remedy them if it is safe to do so and report them to Centric Community Projects.
As with fire safety, occupants of buildings have a duty to ensure that the property they are occupying is safe to be in for staff, volunteers, and visitors.
To ensure the safety of our buildings, Centric Community Projects requires all electronic devices within our properties to be PAT tested, this must be carried out by a trained individual with the relevant equipment and we recommend that charities hire an external organisation to do this. Charities or groups are required to pay for their own PAT testing. More information about PAT testing can be found here.
Maintenance, Safety, and Security
It is the responsibility of the charity or group occupying the space to ensure that is kept in a clean and hygienic condition.
Charities and groups are also responsible for the security of the property that they are using. Buildings should never be left unsecured under any circumstances. Organisations should alert Centric Community Projects to immediately to any serious security concerns with our properties, e.g. broken windows, doors that do not lock, etc.
Any serious maintenance concerns that may cause damage to the building or harm to those using it should also be immediately reported to Centric Community Projects. Examples of these would include but are not limited to: leaking pipes, exposed wires, or structural damage.
There are a few other things to keep in mind if you are currently using or considering applying to use a Centric Community Projects property.
Renovations or changes to the property
Renovations should not be carried out on Centric Community Projects properties without first gaining our permission.
Whilst we have been lucky enough in the past to manage properties for up to four years, we advise charities to keep in mind that there is only a vacation notice period of 14 days on the majority of our properties. Any costs that organisations incur when renovating or improving their property will not be able to be reclaimed from Centric Community Projects and will not affect the notice period served on any tenancies. Please also be aware that some landlords may require any major renovations to be returned to their original state before vacating a building, and organisations will need to cover this cost.
Public Liability Insurance
If your occupation of the building will require members of the public to enter your building, charities will also need to organise and pay for their own public liability insurance. You can find out more about Public Liability insurance here.
The majority of our properties will not require charities to pay fair-use essential utility fees, which will include gas, electricity, and water. If you require a telephone or broadband connection, you will be responsible for organising and paying for this.
Occasionally, when a charity or group has occupied a property for a long period of time, we may ask them to make a small contribution to utilities.
During your occupation of a property, if you receive any post or correspondence regarding rent, utility bills, or other information relating to the property, these should be sent to Centric Community Projects as soon as possible. Occasionally, Centric Community Projects may request that organisations send a meter reading for utilities in their buildings for our use.
There are a few other costs that you may incur whilst occupying a building, such as getting keys cut. We will always communicate these to you clearly and honestly.
During your occupation of the charity, agents or landlords may still organise for viewings to take place of the property. As best we can, we will give you notice of when these viewings are going to take place. Centric Community Projects will also organise our own visits to ensure our properties are being kept in a safe and clean state.
Vacation of a property
Charity occupations of Centric Community Projects properties are all under Tenancies at Will. This means that the notice period for property vacation is 14 days. We will serve your notice as soon as landlords communicate this to us and will do our best to give you as much notice as possible.
Use of a Property
In order for Centric Community Projects to offer out free space, we are required to prove that these properties are occupied and in use. To do this, we will occasionally ask organisations to send us photos of the space that they are using. This is a vital part of your occupation and you should respond to these requests as soon as possible.
Alongside, when moving into a property, Centric Community Projects will send you posters and signs to place on external parts of the building highlighting the partnership between an organisation and Centric Community Projects. Organisations should put up these signs as soon as possible.
Leaving the Property / Going on Holiday
If you are going on holiday at any point and will not be able to access your property during this time, you will need to nominate a responsible individual to monitor the security of your property and take on the duty of looking after it. This may also mean that if we are served notice during this period, your nominated individual will be required to take over your responsibility for clearing out and vacating the property.
At Centric, we are keen to foster a friendly, working relationship with the organisations using our space. We often post news stories on our website about the charities and organisations that we are in partnership with, highlighting the great work they are doing. You can find some of these here. To do this, we ask that charities send us over their logo to go onto the partnership section of our website and may contact you about any stories or interest pieces we are running. Similarly, if you are doing anything that you would like us to potentially write about, please get in contact!
You can also follow us on Twitter @Centric_Project or find us on Facebook by searching Centric Projects Family.
Due to loss of some of our funding we were no longer able to afford to remain in our current office space. This meant staff were losing their office and meeting space, with no alternative place to work.Shelley Black