Ideas for empty barns

Dear Mrs Danvers, I have recently bought a farm on the outskirts of a large village which has several large barns and outbuildings. I have no use for these, but I don?t want to demolish them as they are good-looking and shield the house. Any suggestions?

If you are in a large village, there will almost certainly be people nearby who are looking for exactly this kind of space. It may be a local farmer who wants to store his straw or farm machinery, it may be a hobbyist who buys old cars or motorbikes and needs somewhere to store them, or you might find a man (unlikely to be a woman) who enjoys messing about in barns, doing odd jobs and repairing things. Any of these people might want to use your barns. You can either charge them by the year or arrange a deal whereby the tenant does some work for you around the place, such as cutting hedges or grass (or, indeed, repairing machinery).

Just make sure that your proposed tenant will not make too much noise, is trustworthy and is unlikely to burn the place down. We find that the more people who are about a farm, day and night, the safer the situation. However, it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer, because there can be various pitfalls.