Our trust corporation

Our Trust Corporation is a property holding service that can act as trustee of your building. Find out how this can help you

Our Trust Corporation is a property holding service that can act as the sole trustee of a guiding property

As all Girlguiding branches are charities, it means that the legal title to any property a branch or unit owns must be held by trustees. Using individual trustees can create complications, so using our Trust Corporation to hold the title to your property can make things easier in lots of ways. 

About the Trust Corporation

The Guide Association Trust Corporation is a charitable company owned by The Guide Association. It was set up in 1938 to hold legal title to properties for guide groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As Scotland has different property and trust laws, it can't act as a trustee for property there.

It can hold legal title to freehold and leasehold land and buildings, including everything from a small store camp to a large activity centre. It can't hold licenses or hire agreements.

It can also hold legal title to joint guide and scout halls.

Why use the Trust Corporation?

It's easier - only one trustee needed!

The law requires that any land and building belonging to a charity must be held by trustees and, if the trustees are individuals, there must be more than one of them. The problem with having individual people as trustees to hold your property is if one of them can't do it anymore, a new trustee has to be appointed in their place. This can be a long and complicated process, especially if an original trustee has died or is no longer contactable.

Because of its special legal status, the Trust Corporation can act as the sole trustee in holding legal title to guiding property. Unlike an individual, the Trust Corporation never dies, retires or disappears and the legal title in a guide unit’s property will always be vested in the Trust Corporation even when there is a change in the unit leaders and volunteers.

Safe and central storage of title documents

Once a property is held in trust by the Trust Corporation, it will hold the title deeds to the property in a safe and central storage facility. So there's less risk that the deeds will get lost as local leaders and volunteers come and go. The Trust Corporation can provide copies of title deeds on request.

It’s free to use

There's no charge for using the Trust Corporation’s property holding services. The costs of taking an existing guide property into trust are fully subsidised by Girlguiding, although we would ask the unit to pay any necessary Land Registry fees (this usually costs around £40).

What involvement will the Trust Corporation have with the running of the building?

It is important to remember that the Trust Corporation only holds legal title to property on behalf of guide units or joint guide and scout groups. By doing so, it does not become a charity trustee of the actual guide unit. It does not get involved in management or administration of your venue and has no decision making powers. 

The charity trustees of the guide unit (or the guide and scout groups in the case of a joint property) are responsible for the management of the property this includes:

  • Paying all outgoings, rent and any other financial liabilities relating to the property
  • Complying with all statutory requirements relating to the property including health and safety laws and regulations
  • Carrying out all necessary building repairs
  • Taking out adequate building and contents insurance
  • In the case of leasehold properties, complying with the lease and discussing terms for a new lease with the landlord when the lease comes to an end

The guide unit may choose to form a local management committee to manage the property on its behalf.

When a property is taken into trust by the Trust Corporation, the guide unit will be required to sign a letter of request which says they indemnify the Trust Corporation against all liability whatsoever in relation to the property.  If the property is a joint guide and scout property, both groups will need to sign the letter and give separate indemnities. This means that ultimately all liability for the property rests with the unit (or with the guide and scout group in the case of a joint hall) and not with the Trust Corporation.

If the property is ever sold, the Trust Corporation will hold the proceeds of sale on behalf of the guide unit and will pay out the money as directed by the unit.

How to use the Trust Corporation

To begin the process of using the Trust Corporation - or if you want to check if your unit's property is already held by it - then complete the preliminary legal enquiry form and send it to [email protected], or post it to Legal Support, 17-19 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PT. 

Our property lawyer will contact you and explain what you need to do and talk to you about the paperwork that needs to be completed. You will need to fill out:

  • Property details form - for details of the building you want the Trust Corporation to take into trust.
  • Letter of request - this asks the Trust Corporation to hold the property and shows that you agree to indemnify the Trust Corporation against all liabilities in respect of the property.

If you're buying or leasing a new property and you want the Trust Corporation to hold the legal title, you need to appoint your own local solicitors to deal with the purchase or new lease.  They can then liaise with our property lawyer to make sure that any legal documents that the Trust Corporation needs to sign comply with its requirements. 

My unit's property is held under a lease in the name of the Trust Corporation, and it's due for renewal, what do I need to do?

Don’t panic! Leases of guide properties are usually protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (unless the Act has been specifically excluded in the lease) which means that even if the lease has expired, the guides have a statutory right to remain in the building and a right to request a new lease from the landlord. The landlord can only refuse to grant a new lease on limited grounds.

If your lease is due to expire or has expired, first complete the preliminary legal enquiry form and email it to [email protected] or send it by post to Legal Support, 17-19 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PT.

Our property lawyer will then try and locate your lease and will contact you to advise you whether your lease is protected and what you need to do next.

To renew the lease, you or your unit need to approach the landlord to agree any new terms. Landlords are generally more sympathetic to local guides rather than Girlguiding HQ. But if you do have difficulties agreeing rent or other terms with your landlord, the Trust Corporation does work with an external property surveyor who might be able to help with your negotiations and we can refer you to him.

If the new lease is on the same terms as your existing lease, the Trust Corporation can usually provide legal support to approve the new lease without the need for you to involve your own solicitors.

My unit HQ is held by the Trust Corporation and we want to sell it, or we have a lease but don't want to renew it. What do I need to do? 

Complete the preliminary legal enquiry form and email it to [email protected] or send it by post to Legal Support, 17-19 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PT. Our property lawyer will then locate your title deeds and will contact you to advise you what you need to do next.

There are certain issues that you will need to consider before you sell your property which are set out in this guidance note.

Your own solicitors will need to handle the conveyancing aspects of the sale, and the Trust Corporation’s solicitors will work with them to approve any sale documents and to advise on charity law requirements. The Trust Corporation’s legal costs in connection with the sale will come out of the proceeds of the property sale, before the balance is paid to your unit.

If you have a lease and don't want to continue it, our property lawyer can let you know your options for ending the lease. If the lease can be terminated by a simple surrender, our property lawyer could be able to help you without the need for you to instruct your own solicitors.

Remember that guiding land and property is charity owned, so any sale or surrender must comply with the Charities Act 2011. This requires you to get the best terms that can reasonably be obtained for the charity.

To satisfy this, you must obtain professional advice, in most cases from a chartered surveyor, confirming that you are getting the best terms for your guide group. Our property lawyer can give you more information on this once you have submitted your preliminary legal enquiry form.

I need legal advice about my guide property, can you help?

We will try to help you with your enquiry if possible, but there is a limit to how much legal advice we can provide, as our property lawyer acts for the Trust Corporation and not as a solicitor for individual units or members. In some cases you will be required to seek independent legal advice. This makes sure your interests are protected. Refer to the Trust Corporation’s Legal support policy for more information.

The Trust Corporation only hold documents related to properties it holds. If you have a joint guide and scout property and it is held by The Scout Association Trust Corporation, please contact them instead at [email protected]