Retired Ministers' Housing Society

New applicants

Find out about the types of properties we buy and the criteria we follow when purchasing them.  

To ensure it achieves value for money always, the Society will make sure that the properties it owns meet specified standards.

When viewing potential properties, it is essential to consider the following: 

Property standards

  • It should be a resalable property, not older than 10 years, otherwise it must be assessed for Decent Homes (Government’s target to ensure all homes meet certain standard of decency) to ensure no major works are required within five years of purchase. Lower maintenance properties tend to have uPVC framed windows, external doors fascias and bargeboards, rainwater gutters and downpipes.

  • It must have full and working gas central heating, FENSA registered double-glazing, driveway/garage/off street parking, straight and wide stairs (if applicable), ground floor toilet (if applicable).

  • It must have energy efficient features and Energy Performance Certificates as they provide useful information about the efficiency of the property and future running costs.

  • It must have loft insulation and cavity wall insulation.

  • Electrical test and gas safety certificates must be available. Without these the purchase will not proceed. 

  • Inside the property, cupboards and doors should be intact, there must be no damp, outdated electrics (light switches, power points) or old radiators, cookers and boilers.

Please note, minor repairs are included in the local ceiling allowance. Replacement of fixtures and fittings are the applicant’s responsibility. These may include but not limited to gas fires and small/immediate repairs.

Property location

  • Properties near shops, buses to shopping centre, doctor, hospital, library, church are preferred. In the longer term, when driving may not be possible, these are more suitable.

  • No house on a steep hill or sudden drop and remote from neighbours. These houses may be exposed to winds especially in the winter in addition to access difficulties. Avoid low-lying areas, flood plains, near farms and land-fills.

Properties avoided

  • Properties that have large trees nearby or in the boundary. Sometimes Preservation Orders may be in place and these are difficult and expensive to negotiate.

  • Properties that have flat roofs, are in poor maintenance, have poor or loose brickwork or look ‘tired’.

  • Properties built with non-traditional materials such as concrete walls, steel or wood framed structures, thatched roofs. Warm air heating is noisy and dusty especially for asthma sufferers, electric storage heaters are inflexible, oil and Calor heating facilities are expensive and the latter can be dangerous.

  • Properties that have alterations done unless building regulations and planning permission certificates are produced on request.

  • Properties that have cladding. This can be hiding problems and may have higher decorating costs or rendering.

  • Properties that have solar photovoltaic modules (solar panels) installed.

  • Properties with conservatories. While conservatories are attractive and may serve useful purpose when they are new, they are expensive to maintain. 

  • Properties with steps up to the front door as they may cause problems in later years. Even when they are replaced by ramps, they may be expensive and unsightly. 

Other considerations

  • Downsizing is an inevitable consideration in looking for properties. Properties for retirement are not Manses, therefore looking for a property that will fit everything from a Manse is not practical nor affordable.

  • Make sure the property meets ministers’ (spouses/partners) long term needs: two or three-bedroom bungalows, dormer bungalows, semi-detached and detached.

  • The size of the garden also needs to be thought about. Large gardens can be difficult to maintain.

  • Two receptions reception rooms rather than a through lounge is often more useful because a separate room can serve as a dining room, office or a downstairs bedroom. 

Find out who is eligible for housing, the housing application process and the criteria we use when purchasing properties. 

Find out who qualifies for housing support from us.

Who qualifies for assistance?

A stipendiary minister must serve a minimum of 15 years’ fulltime service (or aggregated equivalent part-time service) in order to be considered for assistance. The minister must have reached retirement age (65 and over) or less if permitted to retire early on grounds of physical or mental incapacity duly approved by the URC. The level of assistance available is calculated based on 40ths

Here is an illustration:

  •  Minister served fulltime for 17 years

  • Three years’ training is recognised and added to the service years

  • Minister therefore has 20 qualifying years

  • Minister with the RMHS identify a suitable property for £200k

  • The RMHS offers assistance* up to £100k (20/40ths) and the minister funds the remainder.

(This calculation is for illustration only, other factors such as a minister’s assets and years of service may affect the actual amount the RMHS will provide)

When two stipendiary ministers are married or in a civil partnership when they retire, their service will be combined to determine the level of assistance offered.

At least one of the ministers must have completed a minimum of 15 years’ fulltime equivalent service or a maximum of 40 years, which provides the basis for the calculation.

If a minister dies whilst in stipendiary service, a surviving spouse/partner will qualify for assistance if the minister would have had enough qualifying service up to their normal retirement date.

Unforeseen situations do occur, and, in such circumstances, it is possible to submit a special application to the RMHS Board for consideration.

Are there restrictions?

Yes. Having managed properties and supported tenants for many years it has become clear that some properties represent poor investment both for the RMHS and ministers who have a share. Additionally, some properties become impractical as age can restrict mobility.

A more important piece of criterion we apply is in setting a price ceiling for properties we are willing to purchase in each local area across the mainland UK.

By using a price ceiling, we can both manage expenditure and ensure ministers are treated fairly depending on where they hope to retire to, as property prices vary considerably from region to region.

What do I need to do?

The illustration above provides a basic calculation but the object of the RMHS is to assist ministers who are in financial need.

The calculation of financial assistance from the RMHS towards the purchase of a home considers a minister’s assets and income.  If you have come into stipendiary ministry later in life, there is an expectation that you/your spouse will have assets secured during that time. 

We use a specific set of formulae to determine the potential level of financial contribution you could make towards the purchase of a home.

If you anticipate/expect to be unable to complete 40 years’ service to the URC then you are likely to need to purchase a share in the property at retirement and you should take steps now to start trying to set aside monies for this purpose.

If you would like a copy of the current ceilings or have an estimate based on the ceilings and your expected service to normal pension age, please contact the RMHS team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 020 7916 8643.

Find out about the process of applying for housing support from us.

Approximately two to three years before your retirement, the United Reformed Church's Education & Learning department will contact you to offer a preparation for retirement course.

At this course, the RMHS will explain in greater depth the housing process. We will also ask those looking for housing assistance to complete an application form. 

We will then contact you and arrange a meeting to discuss your personal circumstances.

Ten to twelve months before your retirement, housing staff will contact you to remind you to confirm your preferred location and to start visiting the area you want to live in to find out more about it. 

We will then provide you with a list of available properties in your area of choice. If these are not appropriate, we will work with you to source a property.