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Can a charity own property?

Yes, but it depends on the type of charity and whether the property is owned in the charity’s name or by trustees on behalf of the charity. There are some specific requirements that apply in relation to buying land and other property most importantly the charity trustees must ensure that it is necessary and within their powers.

There are more detailed rules that apply when a charity disposes of land. Generally, charity trustees are under an obligation to sell the land for the best available price unless there are special reasons to sell to somebody else. In certain circumstances Charity Commission consent will need to be obtained but usually, the obtaining of a surveyor’s report on price and marketing will enable trustees to go ahead without involving the Charity Commission.

It may be prohibited to sell some land because it was originally set up to be used forever for that charity, known as permanent endowment. However, in certain cases it may be possible to ask the Charity Commission to use its powers to enable a sale of such permanent endowment to take place.

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