Buying a woodland as partners or a group can make it possible for people to buy woodlands who couldn’t otherwise afford to do so. It also has the advantage of shared responsibility for ownership – sharing the work and decision-making.. Where there are two or more owners, there is more opportunity for working in a group to carry out a big project, e.g. some coppicing, or for combining your physical resources in shifting logs or erecting a fence.
You will need to decide on a mechanism to make your purchase work. One possibility, if you want to have four or fewer joint owners, is to put everyone onto the Land Registry title. The largest number you can put on is four, so if you want to go above that number you either have to have a trust structure or set up a limited liability company to own the land and then the number of shareholders and directors for the company can be as large as you wish. We sold one woodland to a group of friends who publish the agreement they made before purchasing on their website The Olgar Trust. It might not be right for everyone, but it would give you somewhere to start.
Making it work
If you go for the company route you will probably want to have a shareholders’ agreement that incorporates your collective view on what to do when people want to sell and what to do if more money is needed for any projects or for general management. It is very important to discuss what would happen if someone should want to leave the ownership group, or indeed what would happen if they were forced to give up ownership for financial or personal reasons. Usually you would want the others to have a right to buy the share of the departing owner, but you will need to decide who in the group has first option and at what price. If none of the other owners should want to buy them out, what restrictions if any are there to be on the person to whom they sell?
Many people buy with individuals they already know, perhaps one or more friends. Or they buy with their parents, or their brothers and sisters, or their grown-up children. We have come across examples of all these arrangements and joint purchasing of woodland generally works well.
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