Hiring out school facilities to local sports clubs, other schools or business groups can be a great way for schools to give back to their local community. Getting this right generates goodwill, positive reputation and revenue. Getting it wrong can generate frustration, administrative burden and regulatory questions. This article highlights some key things for schools to consider when hiring out facilities.
1. VRQA Guidelines
The Victorian Registration & Qualification Authority (VRQA) recently released new Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration, which took effect from 1 July 2019.
Amongst other things, the new Guidelines impact on the external hire of school facilities, requiring such arrangements to be recorded in writing and subject to commercial terms. Agreements for the hire of school facilities must contain provisions consistent with the Guidelines, and the day-to-day hiring process for externally-hired facilities should comply with the Guidelines.
2. Hire fees
It goes without saying that both the hire fee and the payment terms must be clearly stated in any hire agreement. For compliance with the Guidelines, it is important that hire fees are set at market rates.
Other related points which should be considered include:
- Do hirers need to pay a deposit to secure their booking?
- Do you require hirers to pay a security deposit? And if so, in what circumstances can the security deposit be withheld by the school?
3. Facility area
It is essential that everyone is clear on what facilities the hirer will be entitled to use. Does hiring the school lecture theatre include use of the school’s sound and lighting equipment? Does hire of the gymnasium include basketball equipment? These issues should be explicitly addressed in the hire agreement.
Our experience suggests another minor detail can prove very important – clarify where cars attending the event should (and should not) be parked. Headaches in this area can be easily avoided by making expectations clear in the hire agreement.
4. Risk management
External hire of school facilities attracts a level of risk. Public liability matters are at the forefront – who is responsible for personal injury occurring during the hire period? What about property damage? Hire agreements should include provisions allocating risk and responsibility for these matters, as well as provisions requiring hirers to comply with school policies and directions as to use of the facility.
Schools should also ensure that every hirer provides evidence of appropriate insurance prior to the hire event.
5. Use of the school’s name
Consider whether the school is happy for its name to be used by the hirer organisation (think “ABC College Basketball Club”) and what conditions you wish to impose on such use. Reputational factors are key, and you want to be sure that you have appropriate control over how the school name is used. Ensuring your agreement deals with the topic of naming rights will minimise the potential for issues to arise in this regard.
What is the right balance?
We don’t advocate for hire agreements that are longer than a Microsoft software licence. The answer is not in a longer document, but a smarter system. We believe in good process, clear terms and flexibility. The best set up will deliver a template document(s) for your school ,including a policy, than can be used for the way you manage external hiring arrangements.
How we can help
The team at Moores is experienced in helping our school clients design processes and documents that manage external hiring arrangements, including compliance with current VRQA Guidelines.
Get in touch with us and we’ll help you to get your facility hire arrangements right first time. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.