Chancel repair liability

Chancel repair liability is the topic on every conveyancer's lips at the moment as it has recently been subject to some important legislative changes affecting existing homeowners and those looking to purchase a home.  Chancel repair liability dates back to medieval times and is the liability of the owner of the property to contribute towards the repairs of their local parish church.  It was previously an overriding interest meaning that it would bind both the owner of the property and anyone who acquired an interest in the property even if the liability was not evident from the title.

Chancel Repair Liability still binds current owners but changes came into force on 13 October 2013 meaning that chancel repair liability is no longer an overriding interest and will only bind future owners if the liability is registered against a property.  

The onus is therefore on the Church to establish liability and to register such liability.  The Church can choose to register such a liability at any point up until the property is sold.  It therefore follows that liability only disappears if the liability is not registered prior to a property being sold

Insurance providers have confirmed that insurance is available for liability which has been registered although the effect on the premium is yet to be seen.  Insurance may also be available for current homeowners who are concerned that their local parish church may register such liability prior to the property being sold.  Once again, the likely premiums for such "potential liability" are unknown.

If you have any queries or concerns in respect of potential chancel repair liability, it is sensible to speak to a solicitor who can advise accordingly.  Likewise, if a local parish church attempts to register such liability against your property please seek advice in respect of this.  Rollits are on hand to answer any such queries and are always happy to help.

Posted on: 18/10/2013

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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