How to avoid a delayed disposal when selling charity properties

It is a trustee’s duty to always work in the best interest of their charity, so when it comes to selling charity property, the law has clear requirements in place to help you do this. By understanding these requirements, it will help you to avoid unnecessary delays when the time comes that you may need to dispose of your charity’s property. 

Do you have permission to sell the property?

In most cases, trustees can rely on their statutory power to sell a charity’s property, both through the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. It’s also likely that wider powers will be written in a charity’s governing document. However, this should not be taken as certain, as in order to avoid delays in disposal, it’s better to know of any possible restrictions that you may face before entering into an agreement. If you can’t rely on any of these powers, you may need to contact the commission for an order or a scheme.

Ensure that there is nothing in your charity’s governing document that prevents you from selling, as some will contain a clause that prohibits trustees from disposing of property. If this is the case, then you should obtain professional advice before proceeding any further with a sale.

You must also find out whether your charity holds any designated land, which refers to space that must be used for a particular purpose of the charity. In many cases, the land can be replaced with other land that would also do the job, although this will require a consultation. If the land cannot be replaced, you may need to apply for a scheme to give you power to dispose of the land or change the purpose of the charity. 

Know and comply with all additional legal requirements

Although you may have established, as in most cases, that you don’t need Charity Commission approval to sell a property, this right does also depend on your compliance with certain legal requirements that need to have happened before you enter into an agreement. 

As a trustee, you must ensure that you are getting the best possible price for your charity’s property. This will involve taking written advice, including a valuation, from a qualified surveyor, and unless the surveyor states otherwise, you must properly advertise the sale. You will also need to make sure that you can provide statements and certificates that will assure the buyer that the land is being disposed of legally.

If the property is being sold to a charity with similar aims, then you may not need to comply with some of these restrictions. Generally, however, if you fail to meet them, the sales process will be delayed by having to apply to the commission. 

Understanding exactly what may be required of you when selling charity property can help you to achieve the best results with minimal delays. If you require any assistance or guidance in regards to buying or selling charity property, contact Bristol solicitor Janine Harris on 0117 973 3989 or email  

This article is provided for general information purposes only and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at the date of uploading. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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