Trevor George

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Ellen Eley

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Heritage property

Wealth Preservation / 17 July 2020

Lockdown has had a huge impact on our ability to enjoy leisure time.

If you are required to open your property to the public a certain number of days each year, but you haven’t been able to as a result of lockdown rules, what do you do?

Our heritage property expert Trevor George and Chartered Legal Executive Ellen Eley explain your options.

As some of us begin to consider the prospect of a summer holiday, for some it will be an opportunity to holiday closer to home and perhaps explore local attractions.  Buildings of historic or architectural interest and objects and collections of national, artistic, historic or scientific interest form an integral part of the cultural life of this country.  As such, they can be exempt from inheritance tax and capital gains tax when they pass to new owners, either on death or by gift.  The Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme (‘Scheme’) conserves and protects these national heritage assets for future generations to enjoy.

The new owner must make an agreement, known as ‘the undertakings’ to:

  • look after the item
  • make it available for the general public to view
  • keep in the UK

In order to qualify for this exemption certain conditions must be met.  In light of Covid-19, these conditions have been temporarily relaxed.


Usually, a property must be open to the public for a set number of days each year.  The Government has confirmed they will not consider their agreement broken if, as an owner of a national heritage property, the opening is delayed until later in the year.  Based on the relevant public health authority’s social distancing guidance, this will still apply not only if you miss some of the period covered by your agreement, but also if the property is not open to the public at all during 2020.  However, it should be noted that if the government’s advice changes in relation to social distancing. HMRC do expect the property to be open later in the year to make up for any lost days, if possible.  There is no requirement to open for additional days next year to make up for any lost days this year.


These are sometimes loaned to a museum for public viewing or can be viewed by private appointment.  If the museum is closed due to coronavirus, HMRC will not treat this as a breach of the agreement.  Similarly, the owner is not expected to agree to a private appointment until the Government advice changes.

If you are the owner of a building or object which you believe may qualify for the Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme, we are able to provide niche advice in relation to your succession planning, call our Wealth Preservation enquiry line on +44 (0)203 691 2080.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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