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13 Oct 2021

The number of stately homes in the UK hits record high

The number of stately homes in the UK has hit a record high of 670, up 22% from the 550 open in 2009, says leading private wealth law firm Boodle Hatfield.

Boodle Hatfield says that some owners of historic homes have acted quickly to capitalise on the staycation boom by opening up their house to the public as a way to help finance the high costs of maintenance for listed buildings.

When opened to the public, stately homes are eligible for exemptions to Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax when they pass on to a new owner either as a gift or in a will after death. To qualify, the owner must enter into an agreement with HMRC that they will preserve the property and make it available to the general public.

By opening up stately homes to the public, owners create much needed rural jobs and add an important asset to the UK’s tourism industry, helping both domestic and overseas tourism.

Boodle Hatfield says that families should however be aware of the costs and regulatory requirements associated with opening their house up to the public, such as suitable health and safety policies and public liability insurance to protect against compensation claims if someone is injured on the premises.

Hayden Bailey, Partner at Boodle Hatfield says: “Owners of historical properties are increasingly choosing to open these to the public.  Doing so allows families to avoid their historic homes being sold to pay Inheritance Tax on death.”

“Owners that have been able to diversify and generate revenue from weddings, corporate events, tourism and wellbeing initiates are hoping to benefit from the opening up of society.  Few people realise how expensive it is to maintain these properties, with annual costs running into the hundreds of thousands in many cases.”

“With long periods of 2020 and 2021 in which they weren’t able to generate revenue, owners will be hoping that domestic tourism remains popular to enable them to make up for lost time.”