Chancel Repair Liability still exists!

Posted: 16/10/2013

You may be aware that from the 12th October 2013 all Chancel Repair Liability land has to be registered with the Land Registry however, this does not mean that Chancel Repair Liability ceases to exist. Churches still have the right to register their interest in perpetuity unless a property has changed hands post October 12th 2013 for a valuable consideration and the title has been registered.

There are currently 25 out of 43 Dioceses in England and Wales who are still investigating which properties are liable for Chancel Repair and actively registering them. This means that a Solicitor or Conveyancer still needs to carry out a Chancel Repair Liability Search to determine potential liability. Insurance can then be purchased against potential risks to ensure that the Church’s actions cannot disrupt a transaction or the solicitor and Conveyancer do not open themselves up to claims of negligence for not carrying out a Chancel Repair Liability Search after the 12th October.

Do you know what Chancel Repair Liability is?

Chancel Repair Liability is a law dating back to medieval times when the country was under the reign of Henry VIII. Chancel Repair Liability was the monarch's decision to dissolve the monasteries when he made himself the supreme head of the Church of England in 1534 and he imposed that churches were to be maintained by wealthy land owners. Before then, many monasteries employed a rector who was responsible for repairing the Churches.

Since then, the large estates of land have been broken down and developed into multiple private residences, however the Chancel Repair Liability, in many instances, has been passed down to the new properties. This Law benefits around 5,200 pre-reformation churches in England and Wales and Under the Land Registration Act 1925, Chancel Repair Liability is classified as an overriding interest in registered land. This means Chancel Repair Liability still exists without the land being registered.

Chancel Repair Liability can mean that property owners could be liable to pay for repairs to the local church, with bills potentially running into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some vicars call it a godsend but it has been known that a chancel repair has cost one couple over £200,000 towards the upkeep of their parish church. These homeowners are called lay rectors.

It is estimated that Chancel land accounts for 40% of all land in England and Wales but there’s no single central register which can be used to identify all Chancel Repair Liabilities. When Pali provide a Chancel Repair Liability Report, the properties deeds are checked along with the Land Registry and current landowners for relevant information. A search of the records will help to identify the likelihood of liability in respect of a given property as well as the proportion of the total cost to be paid in respect of each liable property. The actual amount to be paid cannot be known until repairs are carried out and their costs established.

You can purchase a Chancel Check Chancel Repair Liability Report from Pali which informs you if a property is liable for Chancel repair. There are two reports that can come back from the Chancel Check Report. The first is a certificate which puts the purchaser/vendor in the clear and the second is a report which confirms that there is the real potential to be held liable. If this is the case, insurance can then be purchased from Pali to cover the owner of the property in the event of a claim.

If you would like to order a Chancel Repair Liability Report, please Contact Us.

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(1) Comments chancel, chancel repair liabiloty, chancel check report, church, solicitor

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