Getting to grips with…property and land

Hannah Kowszun was NCVO’s Marketing & Membership Manager until July 2014. Her blog posts have been archived here.

Did you know that some charities’ governing documents specifically forbid the charity from owning or renting property? But they can still do so, if they seek approval from the Charity Commission. The area of property ownership and leasing arrangements for voluntary organisations can be a minefield or a rabbit-hole, depending on how you approach it.

There’s lots of information on land and property on the Commission’s website, from acquiring land in the first place to why you might sell or lease charity land for less than best price (…it’s simpler to do the selling or leasing that way!).

There are other resources available that demystify the jargon-filled world of property. And while there’s always the option of paying for advice, here’s my pick of the freebies.

Advice with a personal touch

Set up five years ago, Charity Property Help is an excellent scheme funded and managed by The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It matches people from a charity or voluntary organisation with a RICS-regulated firm in their local area to help them resolve any issue they may have. Occasionally the problem may be bigger than initially thought, but the personal relationship brokered by the scheme means that there’s always some way to find the help you need.

There is also a property advice service delivered by the Ethical Property Foundation. You need to log into the website to access their resources or you can call to speak to an advisor.

Looking for temporary space?

If you’re looking for space to rent but have a small or non-existent budget, the charity 3Space may be able to help. Its innovative model provides charities with temporary, free of charge, access to otherwise empty properties, supported by the very landlords that own the property.

Any other questions?

It is always worth a visit to Charity Commission website. Put the word ‘property’ into the search bar and it’s likely you’ll find something of use. If this doesn’t yield anything, try the FAQs about land and property.

The HMRC also provides guidance on the tax breaks available to donors from the gifting of property and land.

You’re invited

On Monday 12 May, Charity Property Help will be hosting a 5th birthday celebration in the Council Chambers at RICS HQ on Parliament Square. This is a great chance to mingle with people in the industry and find out more about the scheme. If you would like to attend, email Please note that space at the event will be limited and is on a first come first served basis.

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