Rural real estate

Nobody understands the rural property market, or the myriad of legal issues that touch this asset class, better than Withers.

Since our founding in 1896 we have facilitated the buying and selling of every kind of country home, estate and business and our practical, hands-on team are steeped in rural knowledge.

Be it a farm or a family home, a heritage property or a cutting-edge renewable energy project, this is not a transaction to be handled like any other. Owning rural property is exciting, but carries along with it a range of challenges – from tenancy agreements to rights of way – that need to be handled properly. Our landed estates team have seen it all and know how to help.

To give just one example of the range of issues that may arise, we acted for an American client on the purchase of a 1,000 acre estate in the South of England. We explained the regulations on how the property, a Grade I-listed house, could be modified and advised on the farming and tenancy issues. With a 50-acre reservoir, we were consulted on liability issues, fishing, sporting and access rights, and worked closely with our wealth-planning team to structure the purchase as efficiently as possible given the client’s circumstances and the US/UK tax implications.

‘The support you have in a firm like Withers is amazing,’ says partner Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall. ‘We have under one roof the broadest spectrum of skills, and land is an asset class which pervades every aspect of the law. In any given week we may need to consult with colleagues on health and safety, reputation management, dispute resolution, construction, employment and tax planning matters to help us get the job done. It would be hugely less efficient, both in time and cost, to resource this sort of advice outside the firm’.

No project is too complex for our enthusiastic lawyers, who recently helped a client to buy a 10,000-acre grouse moor and hotel in the Yorkshire Dales. We dealt with a range of esoteric issues relating to freehold land and common grazing rights, structuring the deal through a limited-liability vehicle to guard our wealthy client from publicity and liability.

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Rural news - summer edition: non-domestic rates


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Recognition

Leading firm - Band 1 for real estate in London

Ranked Tier 1 for agriculture and estates

Ranked in Band 2 for Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Top ranked for real estate: high value residential

‘‘

I have recently managed to sell my Yorkshire grouse moors and have been lucky to have had Withers helping me. The team fully understood all the specialist problems and presented the 6000 acre estate, which had plenty of 150 year old mapping problems, in a simple and attractive format which sold itself in a speedy and trouble-free manner. From our first meeting to the exchange and completion they were a pleasure to deal with.

Jeremy Archdale - Rural estate owner

Rural news


Whether you are a rural property owner, or an advisor to those who are, the following feature provides you with a range of articles covering the rural market.

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Meet the team

How the team can help

Track record

Blenheim Palace

The trustees wished to transfer the business of opening the Palace to the public, to a new charity that would allow for the maximization of revenue through gift aid receipts and increased access to grants. Our cross-departmental team put together an innovative structure that allowed the often competing obligations and requirements of the Charity Commission, HMRC and the Palace to be met and the charity opened for business in 2017.

Rare purchase of a grouse moor

We assisted our client in the rare purchase of a grouse moor with over 5,000 acres of freehold land and sporting rights, including moorland, tenanted land, cottages and common rights. We took our client through the complexities of owning a grouse moor and the practical management issues a new entrant to ownership faces, including the advice on graziers rights over the estate. 

British rural estate

Providing advice to the trustees and family members who own and run the estate on all tax and structuring matters, including succession planning. Recently, we advised on the structuring for the sale of land for development both from a tax and planning perspective. We also created a new LLP to own and run the estate, to help achieve the family's aims in involving family members in decision-making and succession planning.

Purchase of 760 acre estate

We acted on the purchase of a 760 acre estate, which consisted of a private water supply, offlying sporting rights, numerous cottages, overage provisions, the reservation and grant of covenants to the previous owner, rights of pre-emption, tenancies and employees. There was also the issue of the transfer and separation of agri-environment schemes and the basic payment scheme.

1,100 acre estate

Purchase of a significant Grade II listed Country House, land, stables, cottages and equestrian facilities. The property had a spring water business (including source) attached to it, and the purchase required the preparation of an asset purchase agreement running alongside the property contract to acquire the assets and intellectual property rights of the bottling plant and water brand.

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