The past few years have prompted many charities to consider their property requirements and, in particular, whether they have too much space. If you own your head office and are considering selling, we have ten top tips for you to consider:

1. Do you have a full house?
Do you have any tenants at your property? If so, you should consider the terms of any occupational leases to make sure you can give a buyer an empty property. 

2. Are you charged up?
Do you have a legal charge or mortgage over your property? This is common where you have received a loan or grant to buy the property. There may be consents needed or limits on use of funds to consider.

3. Phantom rights
Do you use any neighbouring land which you do not own in connection with your use of your property? It may be that these need to be formally documented.  

4. Planning documents: mind the gap
Should you look to sell your building you will need to provide all relevant planning documents, as a buyer is likely to query any missing documents. This includes all planning permissions (for both the current use of the property and any alterations) as well as any building regulations certificates.

5. Stay ahead of the Charities Act 2022
Charities have additional obligations to comply with on the sale of any property. Prior to any sale you will need formal advice on the best method of disposal. The Charities Act 2022 will change the requirements when they come into force in Spring this year.

6. Moving to pastures new
Have you already found a new property? If so, you should consider aligning the timings so that you’re not left without a space. If not, a leaseback or temporary offices might be needed, or even a delayed completion date.

7. Do you have a buildings facilities team?
If you have other tenants in the building and also have a buildings facilities team, these staff members could be subject to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (‘TUPE’). Our Employment team will be able to advise you on the application of TUPE.

8. Internal expertise – who’s at the wheel for you?
Who will be dealing with the property sale internally? It would be useful to have someone who has knowledge of the property and understanding of a sale process. It‘s common to delegate the project to a property committee. We’ll be happy to guide you through the whole process and the legal complexities. 

9. Governance and doing the right thing: charity law compliance
Trustees will need to receive appropriate advice on the transaction before any exchange takes place. Appointing the right team with experience helping charities on such a move will be important, as will building in reporting points to trustees. Decisions as to how to proceed with the sale should be carefully documented, and trustee board meeting minutes should address charity law requirements.

10. Beat the clock
When would you ideally like to move? This is relevant to both considering marketing of the property and the legal process. Even if you’re not in a rush to move, we would recommend reaching out to a surveyor and a lawyer as soon as possible. A last-minute rush to sell could impact the commercial terms you could achieve.

We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have and to help you with your property sale, or to advise you on your property options. Please get in touch with Jamie Huard, Maisie Ireland, or your usual Bates Wells contact.