9 types of land clients can hold in a SIPP
As we have looked at before, commercial property purchase is a popular investment choice among IPM clients. There is a wide variety of scenarios where this can be beneficial for a client.
Recently, we have also seen an increase in land purchase enquiries. Land is not always considered an option for SIPPs, and enquiries usually start with: “I am not sure this is possible, but…”
We are happy to consider land purchases within SIPPs. These enquiries can come in all different forms, from small plots of land to large acreage covering a wide variety of uses.
If the land in question has buildings on it, then these are something we can consider for the purchase too, especially if these form part of the intended use of the land.
The criteria to be satisfied for a land purchase
We have a specific set of criteria which needs to be satisfied before we commit to proceeding with a land purchase, and this is different to a traditional property purchase. We have set these out below:
- It must be a commercial investment
At times, clients may see using their pension to purchase a commercial property as an opportunity for their business. However, just as with a regular property purchase, any land transaction must stack up as a suitable investment for the SIPP.
This means that the purchase price must be fair, usually around the market value as determined by a RICS surveyor, and the land must have a tenant that will pay rent to generate income for the SIPP.
If either the vendor or the tenant is connected to the SIPP beneficiary, then any transaction must take place at a commercial value.
- It must be able to be accessed from a public highway
This is primarily to ensure that the SIPP has the opportunity of obtaining market value for the land should it need to be sold in the future. Land without access, or where you must cross someone else’s property to reach it, is less likely to have a wide market of purchasers so could see the SIPP not recouping a satisfactory amount on its investment.
We can consider rights of way to the land, but we will consider these carefully. By having this as a criterion, this rules out purchasing parcels of land or land banking arrangements which the FCA have highlighted as areas of concern in the past.
- It must not be next to residential property owned by the client
We’re sure this is an obvious one! Land next to a client’s primary residence is not something we are comfortable with. Often there is rarely a genuine commercial reason why a SIPP is buying a plot of land next to a client’s house.
To give you an idea of the variety of different land purchases that could be considered for a SIPP, below is a list of some examples we have been asked to consider.
9 types of land clients have asked us to consider
This is probably the most common type of land clients ask us to consider, and it tends to be something which we are comfortable with. We’re able to demonstrate the purchase is a genuine commercial investment, with the tenant paying rent for use of the land (providing that there is access to a public highway, of course!)
Often, clients ask us to purchase farmland from them or their businesses, which is something we can consider. They need to pay market value for the land, as set by a surveyor, and if the client is also the tenant, they must pay market value rent to the SIPP for use of the land.
One point to note about farmland purchases is that the SIPP is unlikely to be able to purchase any land which includes a farmhouse, as this would give rise to tax charges. The farmhouse will need to be on a separate title, owned by a third party.
We have purchased several stables over the years, and these typically come with a large amount of land for horses to exercise or graze. Like farms, stables are usually something which we are comfortable with as it is easy to identify the commercial use of the land.
Usually, purchases of this nature will include the stable buildings where the horses will reside, as well as any barns/storage buildings that house any associated equipment for the tenant. Typically, the SIPP can accommodate these.
One of our more unique requests was to purchase a piece of land that contained a large lake.
The client concerned is in the fishing industry and owns several other lakes within his business. His adviser approached IPM to see if we could accommodate a potential new lake within our SIPP. It had access to a public highway and the client’s business would be the tenant paying market value rent to the SIPP.
After searches were carried out, this was something we were able to proceed with.
Woodland is not always straightforward as it is not always easy to identify the commerciality of such a purchase.
However, there have been scenarios put forward to us that we were able to move forward with. These include a company that uses the land for their outdoor adventure business, as well as land used to grow Christmas trees!
This is another type of land purchase enquiry which we are often comfortable with, as it is clearly going to generate a return for the SIPP.
Examples of land purchases include a polo club, a nine-hole golf course, and lower league football grounds.
Waterside moorings can be an investment opportunity for a SIPP, as long as it is easily accessible, we can put a formal lease in place for use of the mooring, and we are able to identify the area of the bank that is owned by the SIPP.
While this is another type of land which we approach with more caution, we have had scenarios put to us which we have been able to proceed with.
Our concerns relate to how HMRC may view such purchases with regard to the residential property guidelines. So, we will only consider such purchases where the use of the land is for tents (there is no permanent residential structure on the land) and there are facilities on the site that you would normally associate with campsites, such as shower blocks and toilets.
Most of the fields we own are used for agricultural purposes. However, we have received other enquiries for field purchases to be used for a variety of reasons, from a dog training academy to a gin distillery that wants to use the land to grow their ingredients.
If you have a client who is looking for a plot of land on which to develop and build a commercial property, the SIPP can help here too. We appreciate that the land may not produce income from day one while the building works are underway, which is why it is important to speak to us in advance of using the SIPP in this way.
It is important for clients to remember that the SIPP owns the land, therefore any building work on the land must be paid for by the SIPP. This is important as, when you are working out the cashflow for the purchase, remember that SIPPs can only have a finite amount of money for the purchase to be completed and the works to be carried out.
What we’re not interested in
As stressed above, any land purchase must have genuine commerciality for us to consider.
We will not accept land that the client wants to hold for purposes which include:
- ‘So no-one builds on it’
- ‘It may get planning permission in the future’
- For any other personal use
We will also not build any residential properties on land owned by the SIPP.
Get in touch
If your client has a query about whether a SIPP can purchase a piece of land, we can help. Please get in touch by email email@example.com or call 01438 747 151.