Continuing our series of blogs on property issues upon retirement, this blog is for you if you intend to retain your share in the premises after retirement, whilst other part-owners of the surgery continue in the practice.
This is a scenario that we are seeing more frequently, as fewer incoming partners are willing and/or able to buy-in to the premises. Whether it is your preference to retain your share in the premises or whether it is something you have agreed to do for a period after retirement to help out your former Practice, the points you should be considering are the same:
- Check if you can you hold onto your property share
Check the terms of your Partnership Deed and any other relevant business documentation relating to ownership of the surgery, such as a Declaration of Trust. These documents will set out what should happen with your property interest upon your retirement. Many Partnerships take the view that a retiring partner should be obliged to sell their share in the surgery to the continuing partners, who in turn will be obliged to buy the share, often within a set timeframe.
Of course, what was agreed a few years’ ago in a Partnership Deed or Declaration of Trust down may not, in practice, be feasible now. However, any change to the position set out in the Partnership Deed or Declaration of Trust usually requires unanimity, so if you are thinking about deviating from the agreed position then you should be having early conversations with the continuing partners.
- Think about the tax and mortgage consequences
Whilst you are a partner, the premises are likely to be a partnership asset (your accountant will confirm if this is the case) and there are a number of tax benefits that follow. If you leave the partnership and retain your share in the premises, you will likely change the status of your property share which could have a significant impact on some tax reliefs you’ve been benefitting from, and in some circumstances could trigger additional tax liabilities such as a payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax. You should have an early conversation with your accountant to make sure you understand the impact of holding onto your share of the property on your individual tax affairs.
If the property is mortgaged you should also check the position with your bank, since many mortgages are based on the premise that the building is wholly a partnership asset. Moving a share of the building out of the partnership may be a breach of the terms of the loan.
- Protect your property income following retirement
Once you leave the partnership you will no longer be entitled to any property income that the partnership receives from NHSE England. You will therefore need to agree with all the continuing partners (both property owning partners and non-property owning partners) that your share of any surgery income is passed to you, and make sure you have legally binding contractual arrangement in place to back up this agreement. There are two main ways of doing this:
- put a lease in place: the property owners (you and the other continuing property owning partners) will, as landlord, grant a lease to the partnership, as tenant. As a landlord, you will have rights to the rental income under the lease. You can read more about putting a lease in place here
- put a Declaration of Trust in place: this document will set out the ownership arrangements between all the co-owners. Importantly, whilst at least one of the co-owners continues as a partner in the medical partnership, you can agree that they will ensure that the surgery premises income is paid from the partnership to the other property owners.
Whether you go for the Lease or the Declaration of Trust option will depend on a number of factors including: tax treatment; how long any continuing property owning partners are likely to stay in the partnership; whether the premises are charged to a bank; what sort of lease terms would you be able to agree and what will the CCG support? These are all matters which should be considered in detail before you retire, since your negotiating position is considerably more difficult after you have already retired.
Our next blog looks at the scenario of a retiring partner who wishes to sell the surgery premises, either to his former partners or to a third party.
We advise that all property owning partners need to start thinking about their property plans at least 2 years prior to their date of retirement. If you are considering retirement and would like to discuss your options in more detail then please contact Bethan Dodd or Daphne Robertson on 01483 511555 or [email protected]