Community organisations occupy property (land and/or buildings) for many purposes and under a range of tenure and access arrangements, it’s rare for a community group to own the freehold.
There are three basic legal ways of holding a property:
A license to occupy
Majority of leases into which community groups wish to enter will be regarded under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 as business tenancies. Unless the security of tenure provisions under Part II of the 1954 Act have been excluded by court order (and the order is referred to in the lease) or, more commonly, by agreement between landlord and tenant, the Act provides that on the termination or the expiry of a contractual fixed term or of a notice to quit in relation to a business tenancy the contractual tenancy will automatically continue on the same terms. At this time, the parties will undergo a lengthy process concerning the grant of a new lease.
Any group taking on a building should have a full independent survey done to ensure they’re taking on an asset, not a liability Long-term leases typically run for a period of 99 years, or longer.
Leases of this kind may still run for a significant period. In relation to property to be used for community centres, village halls and the like, Community Matters recommend that a minimum period for a lease of this kind, should be 28 years.A community organisation might be at a disadvantage to a landlord when it comes to negotiating terms for leases. When a landlord such as a local authority or a large charitable trust owns a number of buildings which it wishes to make available for community purposes, negotiations may best be done through a representative body such as a local federation of community organisations or a council for voluntary service. In all circumstances I’d recommend that competent professional advice be sought.
Good management of buildings doesn’t just happen by chance. It requires thought, care, application and attention to detail. It also requires practical skill and knowledge. – building management to be effective needs to be organised. Community Matters produces a whole range of guidance on managing and sustaining a community building and we also deliver training on managing community assets.
Taking on a building will require business planning in detail.
If groups were looking to undertake building projects – then they would need a substantial amount of capital funding or investment. There are funders out there such as Social Investment who have historically provided funding in this area (pre feasibility, feasibility and some capital funding)