We specialise in advising charities and our dedicated Charity Property Team deals with a wide range of matters in the complex area where charity law and property law overlap, offering sector-specific and value for money advice.
Our work includes freehold and leasehold acquisitions and disposals for charities, leasehold portfolio management (including charity shop leases), secured lending and charitable trusts issues, such as permanent endowment and designated land.
Our charity property lawyers are members of our core Charities Team but also draw on the resources of the wider firm (including planning, construction and tax specialists), to offer all the advice our charity clients might need.
Some of the charity property issues that we regularly deal with are:
Disposals of charity property – Charities Act requirements
Disposals of charity property are subject to a layer of notoriously complex statutory restrictions and the law on this changes regularly (see our article on the changes under the Charities Act 2022, for example). Our specialist team has extensive experience of dealing with the compliance issues arising on dispositions of charity land and property.
We have excellent working relationships with a number of charity property surveyors across the UK who can provide specialist advice and support, including qualifying surveyor’s reports, for a broad range of charity clients, no matter the scale or budget of the transaction.
Property holdings and investment
Our charity property specialists are highly experienced in dealing with all aspects of property holdings, acquisitions and disposals for charities. This includes:
- the grant or acquisition of new leases, including high street shops, offices, warehousing, education or health sector buildings
- investment and strategic purchases by a charity, for its own occupation or as part of a property investment holding or development strategy
- dispositions, including sales and surrenders, of existing charity property assets
- consolidation of charity property assets on charity mergers and incorporations, including first registrations at Land Registry.
They provide very clear advice and guidance – both on the telephone, in emails and documents too. They also provide good support to other members of their Birketts’ team when they are called upon to add their specialist expertise.
Legal 500 [UK 2023]
Charitable trusts, permanent endowment and designated land
Many of our clients hold endowment land or act as custodian trustees of charitable trusts. We unravel title to identify where land is held on specific charitable trusts, what this means in the context of a charity’s future plans (whether that is a disposal or restructuring of the charity by merger or incorporation) and advise on the release of these restrictions, including where an application to the Charity Commission is appropriate.
We offer comprehensive legal advice to our charity retail clients on all areas of property advice for charity shops, including new leases and lease renewals, buying and selling property, planning permission, landlord and tenant issues, and temporary shop arrangements. We also provide charity trading advice, including structuring start-ups, setting up trading subsidiaries, intra-group transfers, and advising on Gift Aid for charity shops, including structuring requirements to satisfy HMRC conditions for Method B.