In-specie Transfers

As commercial property experts, our solicitors have a wealth of experience where in-specie transfers of commercial property are concerned. We also understand that all pension property investments are subject to a variety of different circumstances and therefore must be approached on a case-by-case basis.

As is the case with all components of a SIPP or SSAS, instructing a qualified pension property investment solicitor with specific knowledge and experience is key to the successful completion of any planned transaction. Our team of specialist SIPP and SSAS solicitors have unrivalled experience and are extremely familiar with the intricacies of in-specie transfers, as well as with the often unique requirements of the market’s leading providers.

What is an in-specie transfer of a commercial property?

An in-specie transfer of a commercial property is the transfer of a property which is already in a SIPP or SSAS scheme to a scheme operated by another Professional Pension Trustee.

There are several reasons why you (or your client) might want to move a commercial property from one pension scheme to another – however, the many complexities which characterise the process should be carefully considered before any action is taken.

Why opt for an in-specie transfer of a commercial property?

  • Fee Structure: The scheme member(s) may decide that the fee structure imposed by the receiving scheme is more attractive
  • Management: The scheme member(s) may decide that the management options of a Professional Pension Trustee no longer suit the member(s)
  • Property Issue: The type of property may no longer fit a Professional Pension Trustee’s rules

Key Contact

Caroline Probert

Partner & Pension Property Specialist


Helping you and your clients navigate in-specie transfers

What you should be aware of

The receiving scheme usually requires the same degree of due diligence as would be the case with any other type of property purchase.

In other words, the trustee would undertake a full investigation of the title, just as though they were purchasing the property, irrespective of its ownership within an existing pension scheme. For the trustee, it is of great importance to ensure that no changes or modifications have been made to the property, which could ultimately make it a less attractive asset.

Although in-specie transfers are common, the process is often more expensive than SIPP or SSAS Investors or Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) might expect, both in terms of legal fees and valuation fees.

Trustees named on a title

On occasion we encounter a scenario in which a trustee named on a title has moved on, and thus the title must be brought up to date to reflect the changes before an in-specie transfer can commence.

Although the reasons for the removal of an individual from an existing title are often trivial – such as a change of company or that they have ceased their involvement with the pension scheme – overlooking this process can potentially cause complications, as completion of the in-specie transfer will require their signature.

In-species transfers of property subject to a mortgage

An in-specie transfer of a property subject to a mortgage can be particularly difficult. The mortgage covenants will have been given by the transferring Professional Pension Trustee, but the lender will want to take those covenants (the obligation to pay) from the receiving pension trustee. Due to the unusual limits on borrowing which apply to pension schemes, it is rarely a simple matter to transfer the mortgage with the property.

This can be dealt with (at the discretion of the lender) in one of two ways:

1. Issue a new offer to the receiving Professional Pension Trustee
This means that new terms are issued which may differ from the terms of the original mortgage.

2. Novate the Mortgage
This means that the existing mortgage is novated to the receiving trustee. In this scenario, the existing terms of the mortgage are transferred to the new pension trustees and they simply continue making the same payments for the residue of the loan term.


What should you be aware of when considering an in-specie transfer? 

Initial steps

If you believe that an in-specie transfer is the best option for you and your pension scheme, there are two immediate actions which should be taken:

1. Make the necessary mortgage arrangements
Talk to your lender about their processes and get a clear view of how they propose to handle the transfer of the mortgage.

2. Carry-out a valuation
We recommend that you check with both transferring and receiving Professional Pension Trustees that your surveyor is approved by both trustees, as this can save costs. Professional Pension Trustees often have preferred or approved surveyors, so it’s worth checking this before you make any arrangements. 

Limits on borrowing

Are there limits on the amount of borrowing that any one SIPP or SSAS can have?

The absolute limit on borrowing is set at 50% of the value that is in the SIPP immediately before the loan is made. 

Are all ‘types’ of commercial property accepted by pension trustees?

Although the vast majority of commercial property ‘types’ are accepted by professional pension trustees, there some key exceptions.

Common commercial properties accepted into a SIPP or a SSAS pension scheme include offices, warehouses and industrial units, retail units, land for commercial development, or agricultural land.

There are certainly types of property which some professional trustees may not accept into a SIPP or SSAS and may require some prior investigation:

    • Petrol Stations
    • Storage Units
    • Hotel Rooms
    • Sites with a high risk of contamination

A note on in-specie contributions

*In-Specie Contributions cannot be made at the present time. Should In-Specie Contributions be once again permitted, the following information shall be applicable.

What is an in-specie contribution? 

An in-specie contribution enables a SIPP or SSAS member to place an asset, such as a commercial property, into their scheme in place of a cash pension contribution.

In order to make the contribution, a valuation of the property will be carried out, and the member may invest the value of the property up to the maximum total value of permitted annual contributions.

Meet Our Specialist Pension Property Investment Solicitors

Meet Our Specialist Pension Property Investment Solicitors

Chris Twaits​
Partner & Head of Commercial Property​

Chris has acted for SIPP and SSAS pension trustees for over 18 years in the acquisition, sale, letting, mortgaging and in-specie transfer of commercial property investments.
Jennifer Rogerson
Partner & Pension Property Specialist​

Jennifer has been dealing with all aspects of pension property work for nearly 20 years. In particular, she has handled a significant number of transactions involving joint ownership structures with complex funding arrangements.
Caroline Probert
Partner & Pension Property Specialist​

Caroline is very experienced in a wide range of commercial property work and has specialised in pension property work since 2004. She has a reputation for being proactive and finding solutions for clients.
Johanna Hammersley
Senior Associate & Pension Property Specialist​

Johanna is an Associate Solicitor in our specialist pension property team and has been dealing with pension property work for over 12 years. Her expertise covers everything from simple lease renewals to member tenants, to complex joint ownership purchases which are subject to bank finance.

For Independent Financial Advisors

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For Trustees

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For Private Clients

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Richmond Point
43 Richmond Hill
Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6LR

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