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charities

The charities sector is one of the most heavily regulated in the UK, and as a result every decision taken by your trustees and senior management team must comply with the rules and regulations set out in the Charities Act, as well as your own individual constitution. This includes decisions concerning any property you own or which you are considering acquiring or letting.

Our commercial property lawyers have an in-depth understanding of charities and the law that governs them, and act for some major charities.

The charities team is led by Richard Willis, who specialises in advising charitable faith groups of all denominations, independent schools and other educational establishments, community groups, environmental organisations and local and national hospices. Richard’s interest in charities is deep rooted and he is an active member of the Charity Law Association.

To find out more, please call us on 01908 689314 or email legal@geoffreyleaver.com.

Our services for charities

 We can support you with all property related matters, including:

  • acquisitions and disposals;
  • commercial lettings;
  • portfolio management;
  • land development;
  • real estate finance;
  • investment strategy;
  • trust arrangements; and
  • resolution of property related disputes.

Charities Act advice

The Charities Act imposes a range of obligations on charitable organisations which must be complied with when dealing with a property transaction. For example, in the context of a sale there is an obligation on the trustees to achieve the best possible deal and a procedure that must be followed to ensure this is done. Where a sale is agreed that is non-compliant, there is a risk that the transaction could be susceptible to challenge and that it may be set aside.

We can advise you on the obligations that apply to a transaction you may be considering, and ensure that the decisions you take are made properly so they are beyond reproach.  We will also support you to make decisions that are constitutionally sound and commercially sensible.

Development support

The charities sector is one of the UK’s largest landowners, and in view of this it is common for organisations to be approached by developers who are keen to acquire specific sites.

In this scenario, you will need to carefully consider any offers that are made and ensure that where a sale is agreed it is on terms that will provide a real benefit to the charity and its beneficiaries, and that it is structured in a way that maximises the return on your investment and takes full advantage of all available tax reliefs and exemptions.

Working closely with the development and planning lawyers in our team, we can advise you on the development potential of a site and on the various means by which a project could be taken forward, including via collaboration with the developer in certain cases.

We can also provide advice on the use of an overage agreement where appropriate, to ensure that you benefit from any future increase in the value of your land, for example as a result of planning permission subsequently being obtained, the land being ‘flipped’ (i.e. sold on by the developer) for a higher price within a defined period, or where the developer generates significant sales revenue once the development has been completed and sold on.

Taking on a lease

Where you plan to take a lease on a property, we can advise you on the proposed lease terms and also help to resolve any landlord and tenant issues that may arise during your period of occupation. This includes dealing with rent reviews, lease renewals, requests made by you for permission to sub-let part of your premises to diversify your income stream, and requests by your landlord that you vacate your premises at the end of the current lease term.

We can also advise you on your eligibility to claim charitable rate relief or discretionary relief from your local authority.

Portfolio management

Property ownership is a great way for charities to generate much needed income and to build up a valuable asset base, but the property within your portfolio needs to be carefully managed to ensure it remains in good condition and is generating a healthy return.

Working alongside other professional advisors, we can provide a comprehensive portfolio management service that helps to take care of your property investments. This includes supporting you in the development of a portfolio strategy, agreeing leases and dealing with tenancy matters, facilitating portfolio restructuring and rationalisation and also helping to resolve property-related disputes with the help of our litigation team.

Why choose Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors?

Our lawyers understand the complexities of the charities sector and how these interplay with commercial property transactions.  We therefore have the expertise needed to help you approach and structure your property dealings in a way that complies with your statutory and governance obligations, and yet which also dovetail with your charitable purposes, operational and investment requirements and broader commercial goals.

The service we provide is fast and efficient, competitively priced and fully personalised to meet your own charity’s individual needs. You can also rest assured that our service is first class, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive client testimonials that we regularly receive and our listing as a top tier firm in the highly respected Legal 500 law directory.

To make an appointment to see one of our Property Solicitors, Darren Millis or Richard Willis, please call on 01908 689314 or contact us.

And to keep up with developments in the law affecting charities and commercial real estate, you might also like to sign up to receive our newsletter or visit our resource hub.


What our clients say:

“You made what could have been a complicated and daunting process for us, very smooth and stress free.”
KDK Archaeology Ltd

For more information about how we can help, you can read testimonials from our commercial property clients


Accreditations

The Legal 500:  “Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP’s commercial property team is well versed in the areas of construction, property investments, planning and property disputes. Its clients include housing associations and occupiers (landlords and tenants). The practice is headed up by Darren Millis and Richard Willis.”

Legal 500 2020 Leading firm

 

The Commercial Property Team

  • Darren Millis Partner
    Commercial Property 01908 689319
    Darren has over 25 years’ experience in dealing with commercial property work.  Darren has concentrated in the last few years on the more complicated land acquisition and development work including:

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  • Richard Willis Consultant Solicitor
    Commercial Property 01908 689315
    Richard specialises in Property Law, representing clients from small family businesses to large PLC’s’ He also acts for local Councils, Parish Councils, landowners, investors, developers, lenders, Housing Associations and Charities. 

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  • David Barton Consultant
    Commercial Property 01908 689395
    David Barton joined Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors in 2014 along with his planning and property development team from Williams & Company in Ampthill. David is widely known for his expertise in helping farmers, landowners and property developers grow houses on their land.  David now assists the team as a Consultant.

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  • Georgina Page Solicitor
    Commercial Property 01908 689361
    Georgina joined Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors in October 2014 from Williams & Company in Ampthill.  Georgina completed the Legal Practice Course at Sheffield University after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a 2:1 in Law (LLB) and qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2020.

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