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Charity land

Vesting land in the Official Custodian for Charities

‘Charity land’ is a land (including buildings and structures, rights of way or access) held by, or on trust for, a charity in England or Wales.

Charity land must be held in someone’s name, and unless the charity is a corporate body (for example a company) it has to be held in the names of individuals on behalf of the charity. When the trustee body changes this can cause expense as the land may have to be registered in the name of the new trustees.

A simpler alternative is for an Official Custodian to hold the legal title. The Charity Commission operates a free service to give trustees peace of mind that the charity’s land is still held for the charity even though they have resigned or been replaced.

Selling, buying or leasing

Most charities can buy or sell land as it is set out in the charity’s governing document, but charities can also rely on what is called ‘the statutory power’.

To sell charity land certain requirements have to be met, like taking written advice from a qualified surveyor, or advertising the land and it might need the approval of the Charity Commission if it is being sold to someone who is connected to the charity, or where the land is needed to ensure that the charity can meet its objects (for example a Village Hall charity).

Charity owned land can be leased as well, as long as the lease is in the best interest of the charity, and the charity owns the land, has the power to lease it and the governing document doesn’t prohibit the lease. Nevertheless, the Charity Commission’s approval is required if

- the land is leased to someone who is connected to the charity
- if the governing document specifies a particular purpose or forbids the trustees to lease the land
- if surveyor’s report wasn’t obtained, or followed
- if the land is needed to ensure that the charity can meet its objects

For further information:



Date: 17th September, 2012
Author: Wendy Bambrick


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