Barratt heirs serve notice on tenants: Cottages to be sold to pay inheritance tax bill

 

He was Britain's most prolific house-builder, whose mock-Tudor homes became a symbol of the aspirational middle classes. But the sons of Sir Lawrie Barratt, who died in December last year, have asked tenants on their 4,350-acre Yorkshire estate to leave their homes. They have written to residents asking them to vacate their cottages, as they need to sell them to pay inheritance tax.

Peter and David Barratt were left the magnificent Farndale estate by their father. Sir Lawrence "Brickie" Barratt bought the Yorkshire valley, noted for its pheasant shoot and annual display of daffodils, for a reported £1.5m in 1981. After his death last year, aged 85, his total estate – which included property in Northumberland and a villa in the south of France – was valued at £43,635,330. Now, his sons say they have been hit with a giant tax bill.

The Barratts own 45 properties in Farndale, 13 of which they plan to sell. Last week, affected tenants received letters from the Barratts' land agent, Laura Hardy of Strutt and Parker, informing them their homes are to be sold. "Peter and David have decided to sell a number of the residential properties in the estate in order to pay inheritance tax," says the letter. "It is thus with great regret that I am writing to advise you that the property you occupy is included in the number that they are selling."

It is thought that some tenants have been served with a Section 21 notice giving them until mid- October to vacate their homes. Most of the tenants are in cottages in the hamlets of Low Mill and Church Houses. Some are being told that their property is available to buy prior to it being advertised on the open market, but that tenants unable to buy must allow viewings or open days "with immediate effect".

One tenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, heard the news while on holiday abroad. She told The Independent on Sunday that she and her family – who "adore Farndale"– were "in a state of shock and totally distraught". Other tenants involved – some of whom are also on holiday – have similarly been left reeling by the news, which has come as a complete surprise. Some are seeking legal advice with a view to forming an action group before they formulate their response.

They are being supported by freeholders, one of whom said: "Treating the tenants like this is nothing less than feudal. It reminds you of the highland clearances. It should not be allowed to happen in the 21st century."

It is believed the Barratt brothers have had a timescale imposed on them in which they have to pay their inheritance tax bill and that they will have to sell properties in Northumberland as well as in Farndale in order to meet it. Had Sir Lawrie left his estate to his widow, who survives him, there would be no death duties to pay until her death. Furthermore, the Inland Revenue has a facility that allows inheritance tax on property to be paid over a 10-year period, to avoid forcing its sale. In some instances, property can even be handed over in lieu of inheritance tax, though this applies only to buildings of outstanding historic or architectural interest. Though the Farndale Estate lies within the North Yorkshire National Park, it is not thought it would be eligible for this provision.

Sir Lawrence Barratt was a self-made millionaire who counted Margaret Thatcher as a friend. The Thatchers even bought a Barratt home in Dulwich when she was in office, though they never moved in, choosing to live in Belgravia after Downing Street. Sir Lawrie enjoyed the boom years of the 1980s, flying between building sites in his own Barratt helicopter. One American journalist noted his "regal bearing", and he was said to enjoy his reputation as a grandee of the North-east. But last year he and his second wife, Lady Sheila, suffered a traumatic burglary at home. They were tied up and gagged by balaclava-wearing thieves, who made off with jewellery worth an estimated £1m. Already in poor health, Sir Lawrie never quite recovered from the shock and died a few months later.

A spokesman for HMRC said: "Due to taxpayer confidentiality we cannot comment on individual cases." Speaking on behalf of the Barratt brothers, Laura Hardy said: "Sir Lawrence died in December and his family are facing an inheritance tax bill which needs paying. As part of that they are selling some properties. There is no set time frame and each tenant has a different notice period, depending on the individual tenancy agreement." Asked whether the estate would help tenants seek alternative accommodation, she said: "We don't own any other houses."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments