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
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

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

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game