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Academy convertors and your obligations under the model lease

12 January 2018

The Department for Education (DfE) model lease transfers responsibility for the school site (or playing fields where the school buildings are occupied under a supplemental agreement) to the academy trust.

Below you will find a concise guide to obligations imposed on academy trusts under the model lease. However, please note that your lease may contain amendments which vary these obligations.

Your obligations and what you need to do


The property may be used for the provision of educational services and - provided your lease permits - for community, fund raising and recreational purposes which are ancillary to the provision of educational services.


You must either become a member of the risk protection arrangement operated by the Department for Education or ensure the property is insured with a reputable insurance office against loss or damage for the full reinstatement value of the property.


You must keep the property clean and tidy and make good any damage caused to it. You must also make good any deterioration in the condition of the property - but not so as to put the property in any better state of condition than it was in at the date of the lease.

You must also permit access to the landlord at reasonable times, on reasonable notice, to view the state and condition of the property. Finally, you must comply with any repairs notice served by the landlord.

Statutory obligations

Please follow the links below for full details of your statutory obligations:

  1. Control of asbestos
  2. Fire safety
  3. Building regulations
  4. Legionella
  5. Gas safety
  6. Equality Act 2010
  7. Standards for school premises
  8. Health and safety 
  9. Contaminated land
    You will be responsible for the management and cleaning up of all contamination, pre-existing or otherwise, affecting your site (though, if the original polluter can be identified, they may be liable). This includes asbestos. We can provide bespoke guidance on a case-by-case basis.
  10. Listed buildings
    Any listed buildings will be subject to the statutory requirements (including the requirement for listed building planning consent). We can provide bespoke guidance on a case-by-case basis.

Extensions and alterations

Provided the proposed works do not interfere with the landlord’s obligations as a local authority; affect the structural integrity or the property; devalue the property, or hinder access to a conduit; then extensions and alterations are generally permitted.

However, the landlord must be consulted and any recommendations/requirements taken into account. You must also submit appropriate plans showing the proposals to the landlord. You must obtain written consent from the landlord before commencing any work and this must be carried out and completed in a good and workmanlike manner as soon as reasonably practicable.

The landlord’s consent will usually need to be documented by deed. We can provide comprehensive legal assistance in this regard.

Allowing others to occupy

Assignments are only permitted to the Secretary of State, a proprietor or proposed proprietor of an academy, or to a successor charitable or public body where the Secretary of State has given approval in writing.

Underlettings of part may be permitted subject to the provisions in your lease.

Charging is generally prohibited, however some local authorities do permit it, provided their consent is obtained. This will be clear from your lease.

Sharing part of the property with providers of services that are ancillary to education is permitted.

These arrangements will need to be appropriately documented to ensure all necessary consents are recorded and that your liabilities are minimised. We can provide comprehensive legal assistance in this regard.

Putting up signs

This is permitted where the sign is required by law to be affixed or displayed; does not require planning permission; or is necessary, or usual, for the authorised use of the property. The landlord must be notified in all other circumstances.

Planning and environmental matters

When an application for planning permission is made, a copy of the application, and any plans and specifications relating to it, are to be provided to the landlord. Written notice of the outcome is to be given to the landlord within 20 days.


Any communication you receive that may affect the value of the property, or place a liability on the landlord, is to be provided to the landlord as soon as possible.

Our team has extensive experience in relation to all types of property matters relating to schools, including disposals and acquisitions, leases, telecoms and substations, solar panels, boundary disputes, rights of way, access issues. Please feel free to contact us if you need any advice or assistance.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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