Information for Charities and Organisations

Information for Charities and Organisations

Centric Community Projects is a charity that works with property owners and property agents to offer free space for charities, non-profit organisations and small businesses. We do this through our established relationships with some of the UK’s largest property owners. They realise that, through Centric, they benefit from lower security costs, a lower risk of dilapidation and vandalism, and often lower insurance premiums. In exchange, the space they provide allows us to work with charities to achieve their charitable visions and aims without the high costs attached to renting commercial property.


To see a PDF version of this information, click here: Welcome Pack

 

What Does ‘Free Space’ Really Mean?

The offer of free space includes the normal rent and business rates and, in most cases, utilities as well. In the majority of our cases, charities will not have to pay any money to Centric throughout the entirety of their occupation.

On some occasions, after a prolonged period of time, some of the property owners request a small contribution towards utility bills. This is unusual and we will give you adequate notice if we ever expect this to happen.

There are a number of small costs which we do expect tenants to cover whilst they are using our properties. These are typically in the interest of health and safety, and we have laid these out in further detail below.

 

What is This Page For?

This page is designed to answer any questions you may have if you are considering applying to use a Centric property or if you are just about to move into one. It covers a variety of topics, like how to get in touch with Centric, your responsibilities with building safety, and other expectations that Centric has for its tenants.

We are always looking to update and improve this information for future partnerships, so if you feel this page can be improved in any way or that it is missing information, please get in touch with us.

 

Contacting Centric

During a tenancy with us, we will liaise with any relevant parties such as property owners or managing agents on your behalf as we act as your landlord during your tenancy. You should not make contact with these parties directly. Our contact details are available here.

 

Centric Contacting You

If you move into a Centric property, we will ask for at least two people for your organisation that we can keep in contact with. It is very important that we always have up-to-date contact information for your organisation. If any of your contact details change, you should let us know as soon as possible.

If we contact you requesting information or documentation regarding your usage of the property, you must comply with this. Any failure to do so will have consequences for your tenancy.

 

Fire Safety

As occupants of a property, tenants are legally defined as ‘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 that you should be aware of. There is more information about this here.

At the beginning of your tenancy, you will be asked to complete a Fire Risk Assessment. As part of this, you will need to consider the needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly and those with disabilities, and make the appropriate arrangements for those people to evacuate the building safely.  It may be that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, or PEEP, is needed in the case of someone needing assistance in order to evacuate. For more information on this, see this page.

 

Fire Extinguishers

All our properties require fire extinguishers to be present and regularly serviced. This may mean that you 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, you will be required to organise and pay for these fire extinguishers to be serviced. After their installation or first service, fire extinguishers must be serviced annually.

We recommend Flamex for extinguisher purchasing, fitting, and servicing. Our contact is dale@flamex.co.uk, 01788577977, www.flamex.co.uk

 

Fire Marshals

For every organisation in every property, there needs to be an elected Fire Marshal. This is someone who is responsible for ensuring that everyone is out of the property and will communicate to a member of the Fire Brigade if there is anyone remaining in the property after an evacuation.

A Fire Marshal has a number of responsibilities, including carrying out role calls and reporting to the fire services / building manager in the event of a fire or fire drill. They will be responsible for ensuring the compliance of volunteers, staff and clients and ensuring all new staff are trained on fire procedures.

To do their job efficiently, a Fire Marshal must know of everyone who is in the building visiting their organisation. To facilitate this, we recommend the use of a sign-in sheet for everyone entering and exiting your property to use.

There is a good resource for Fire Marshal training here

When using a Centric managed space, organisations must have an elected fire marshal and deputy. For more information about the expectations of these roles, click here: Fire Marshals and Fire Safety

Fire Risk Assessments

Tenants must regularly carry out fire risk assessments of the property they are using. For shared properties or spaces, communication with other tenants will be needed in order to complete a communal fire risk assessment. A separate fire risk assessment for privately used areas must also be completed. Fire risk assessments should be completed annually, a hard copy should be kept and copies must be sent to Centric Community Projects when requested.

 

Fire Drills

Centric Community Projects or the managing agent for a property may occasionally carry out a fire drill on the property that you are in. You should familiarise yourself with the location of the fire assembly point and inform all volunteers and staff of its location. It is also a good idea to print off information about your fire assembly point location and post it visibly around your office.

In the event of a fire:

  • 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 charge 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.

 

General Fire Safety

Tenants 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 doors should never be blocked. If you come across any dangerous practices, you should remedy them if it is safe to do so and report them to Centric Community Projects.

If you fail to comply with any fire safety requirements above, we will issue your organisation with a warning. Continued failures to comply will have consequences for your tenancy.

If multiple people are visiting or using your space, you should maintain a sign in sheet of those who are inside the property at any one time. Please ensure everyone accessing the premises signs in and out, as this can be used as a roll call if you ever need to evacuate.

 

Building Safety and Conditions

As with fire safety, occupants of buildings have a duty to ensure that the property they are using is safe to be in for staff, volunteers, and visitors.

 

PAT Testing

To ensure the safety of our properties, Centric Community Projects requires all electronic devices used in the 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. Tenants 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 tenants to ensure that properties are kept in a clean and hygienic condition.

Tenants are also responsible for the security of the property that they are using. A property should never be left unsecured under any circumstances. You should alert Centric immediately to any serious security concerns within 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.

 

Renovations or changes to the property

Renovation or refurbishment should not be carried out on Centric properties without first gaining permission.

Whilst we have been lucky enough in the past to manage properties for up to four years, we advise tenants to keep in mind that there is only a vacation notice period of 14 days on the majority of our properties. Any costs that are incurred when renovating or improving a property will not be reimbursed and will not affect the notice period on any tenancies.

It is for this reason that we advise against making costly changes to the space you are allocated.

 

Public Liability Insurance

If your occupation of a property requires members of the public to enter, you will need to organise and pay for your own public liability insurance. You can find out more about Public Liability insurance here.

 

Utilities

In the majority of our properties, charities will not be required 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 for a small contribution towards the cost of 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.

 

Meter Readings

Occasionally, we may request that tenants send a meter reading to us. We recommend that a meter reading is taken when a property is first moved into and that this information is recorded for future reference.

 

Other Costs

As all of our properties and situations are unique, there may be other costs attached to your use of the building, such as the cost of getting additional keys cut or the postage cost of sending us any documents. Where possible, we will communicate any costs we expect you to incur before you move into a property, but there may be situations where costs are incurred unexpectedly. In these scenarios, we will communicate these costs as soon as we are aware they will arise.

 

Property Viewings

During your occupation of a property, agents or property owners may still organise for viewings to take place, which may result in the commercial letting of the property and the end of our tenancy. 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. Tenants must comply with these viewings.        

 

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.

 

Vacation and Eviction

Occupations of Centric Community Properties are all Tenancies at Will. This means that the notice period for property vacation is 14 days, and in some cases 30 days. Your notice period length will be detailed in the Covering Letter sent the same day as your Tenancy at Will.

Should the tenancy end at the property owner’s request, we will serve your notice as soon as their intent is communicated to us. We have two tiers of notice: soft and hard. Soft notice is given as soon as we know that a property may be becoming unavailable soon; it is not a legal notice. Hard notice is given as soon as we have a confirmed vacation date.

Centric Community Projects reserves the right to serve you the notice defined in your covering letter at any point in the tenancy for reasons including but not limited to the following;

  • You are using our space inappropriately
  • You are making insufficient use of the space
  • You are not complying to requests from us
  • You are keeping the property in an unsatisfactory condition
  • You are not responding to emails or phone calls from us in a timely manner
  • We become aware of any verifiable formal safeguarding complaints connected to your organisation

 

Evidence Photos

In order for Centric to provide charities with free space, we are required to prove that these properties are occupied and in use. To do this, we will occasionally ask tenants to send us photos of the space that they are using. This is a vital part of occupation and tenants must should respond to these requests as soon as possible.

The photos which we receive may be published on our social media accounts- please let us know if this is something you do not feel comfortable with.

When moving into a property, we will send you posters and signs to put up which highlight the partnership with Centric Community Projects. Tenants should put up these signs as soon as possible and send us evidence that this has been done.

 

Change in Usage of a Property

If your organisation wishes to significantly change the way the space is being used (e.g. from storage to office use, or from retail use to storage use), permission must be sought and granted from Centric in order for this to occur. 

 

Reapplying for Space Following Long Term Occupation

If you occupy our space for a longer term period (e.g. over a year), we may ask you to reapply to the space. This would include completing a questionnaire which reflects your organisation’s most recent work.  Depending on our review of the questionnaire and how well we feel that you are using the space, we may either continue your occupation or allocate the space to another organisation which has a greater need for free workspace.

 

Working With Centric

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.

We may contact you to gather information for any stories or interest pieces we are putting together. Similarly, if you are doing anything that you would like us to post about on social media, please get in touch.

Similarly, we’re also really keen to attend any events that you are putting on if able. If you are planning to have an opening event for your space, or are putting on any events throughout the year, please let us know and we will do our best to attend!

We look forward to your cooperation and to working with you.

To keep up to date with what we’re up to, please click on any of the below:

 

 

 

 

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
CEO Fairweather