One of the principal causes of loss to charities in connection with property is the absence of clear and available records. Without such records, there will always be expense, delay and uncertainty involved in identifying and obtaining replacement documents, and sometimes this may not be possible. Appropriate records should be available of all key documents that may be needed for reference in the future.
- Documentation affecting legal use of the property such as land registry entries, planning permissions, trust deeds, Charity Commission Schemes, and leases and notices served or received can be essential in determining what the organisation can or cannot do with the property.
- Reports from experts such as surveyors and solicitors can provide useful additional information and important additional information regarding the context and meaning of original documents.
- Reports of inspections for statutory purposes either formally or otherwise e.g. fire regulations, Disability Discrimination Act and Asbestos Regulations can be essential to confirm current compliance and provide background for compliance in case any changes are made to the property or its use.
- Statutory and other certificates or confirmation of compliance such as building regulation inspection certificates, certificates of compliance with best practice in relation to electricity can be important necessary evidence for landlords, third parties such as prospective tenants and demonstration of compliance to prospective funders..
- Guarantees relating to the property e.g. relating to double glazing, underpinning central heating etc can result in significant financial savings if there are problems with the fabric of the property.
- Unless such documentation is readily to hand, it is possible that in some way or other the charity may engage someone to do work that has already been done or does not need doing.
- Readily available information can facilitate transactions with the property where information of this type is routinely requested.
- An accessible archive of relevant information may prove invaluable in showing that adequate systems are in place if the administrative efficiency of the charity is called into question.
- The absence of a document might lead to a presumption which prejudices a party. For example, if there is no available copy of a notice this might lead to the incorrect presumption that notice (perhaps for a rent review, or a notice to quit) was not in fact served or received.
- There may be a guarantee or other insurance that would pay for sorting out the problem. If this is not accessible it could be overlooked.