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HMRC internal manual

VAT Land and Property

HM Revenue & Customs
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Option to tax - anti-avoidance test: what is a 'relevant pre-commencement grant'?

A lease or licence granted between 26 November 1996 and 30 November 1999 was a pre-commencement grant if the agreements had already been formally decided and put into writing. The aim was to accommodate a situation where a landlord was contractually bound to grant a lease under specific terms and could not therefore vary those terms when granting the lease.

The law deliberately does not specify what form of agreement is necessary, and you should, for example, accept formal agreements, missives (Scotland) or exchanges of letters.