Rob King

Rob King
Head of Property Technical

Small Self-Administered Schemes (SSASs) seem to be regaining in popularity and one of the most popular investments within a SSAS is commercial property. As most SSASs are established by owner-managed businesses, the majority of such properties are let to connected tenants, but there are many pure investment properties also held.

Irrespective of the tenant, or for that matter the type of property, a crucial role is that of the Property Manager, whose role is to oversee the day-to-day management of the property on behalf of the pension scheme trustees. Despite being a vital role, no formal qualifications are required to become a Property Manager.

Some Trustees elect to appoint a professionally qualified manager from one of the many large companies who provide real estate services. Other trustees, perhaps with an eye on saving money, decide to undertake the role themselves.

The role of Property Manager includes a number of important tasks, which include:

  • Ensuring that the appropriate insurance is in place and that sufficient levels of cover have been selected. Reinstatement values have increased dramatically recently, and the rate of increases therein have exceeded the relative growth rates in open market values.
  • Invoicing the tenant for rent in accordance with the lease terms and ensuring that the correct rents are paid into the scheme bank account
  • Preparation for and undertaking documented rent reviews and obtaining specialist valuation advice when necessary
  • Ensuring that a qualified and competent solicitor drafts any appropriate tenancy agreements
  • Completing and submitting all VAT returns and instructing the pension administrator to make payments to HMRC in a timely manner
  • Ensuring the tenants observe all covenants in the lease, payments of rent, insurance, rates, correct business use etc.
  • Monitoring the ongoing condition of the property and ensuring that the tenant arranges for necessary repairs and maintenance in accordance with the terms of the lease
  • Meeting all legal duties, including environmental and asbestos management
  • Ensuring the property has a valid Energy performance Certificate (EPC) – vital ahead of the April 2023 deadline.
  • Staying ahead of property legislation eg the EPC changes as above.

Such responsibilities should not be taken lightly. Failure to correctly deal with these tasks could lead to such consequences as HMRC levying hefty unauthorised payment charges and/or fines for late VAT payments, and potential property environmental issues, and dilapidation of the pension scheme investment.

The Scheme Administrator has a duty of care to all pension scheme members and can offer advice and guidance on how to overcome the types of issues that can occur on property investment within the SSAS on a daily basis. With all the tasks and responsibilities mentioned above, it is crucial that the Property Manager works closely with the Scheme Administrator in the management of commercial property on a regular basis, even if it is just to check their understanding and to ensure that the risks of holding a commercial property within a SSAS are mitigated.

Should you need further advice regarding small Self-Administered Schemes (SSASs), please feel free to speak to our highly qualified team of SSAS experts.