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by Ridley&Hall in Adam Fletcher, Alison Mason, Liz Wallis, Residential property posted December 6, 2013.

Are you still affected by potential chancel repair liability?

Chancel repair liability is an ancient interest benefiting many parochial church councils in England and Wales. Owners of former rectorial land may be obliged to meet the cost of repairing the church chancel.  Frequently, property to which the liability originally attached will have been divided into many separate ownerships, but each individual owner (and potentially any tenants) may be liable for the whole cost of any repairs.

Completed your purchase before 13th October 2013?

Your property, and therefore you, may still find yourself potentially liable for chancel repair.  You may have undertaken a chancel check in advance of your completion date to ascertain whether there is a potential liability associated with the property.   In any event, your property may still be at risk of the church registering an entry in your title registers at Land Registry to note the property owner’s obligation to contribute towards chancel repairs.  Should this happen in advance of any subsequent sale, your buyer will have take the property subject to such liability.

The liability will, however, be extinguished on the first transaction for value, ie, a sale, following 13th October 2013, provided the church has not in the interim registered the obligation on the property’s title deeds, but this may well be some time from now.

Generally insurance can be obtained to cover the potential risk of liability although it can be expected that premiums will be lower whilst there is no registered liability against the property’s title.

Completed your purchase after 13th October 2013?

Any potential chancel repair liability is extinguished following the first transaction for valuable consideration after 12th October 2013, provided there is no notice on the property’s title indicating there is such a liability.  In these circumstances your property will free and clear of any potential liability for chancel repair.

If you have purchased property recently, your conveyancers should have provided you with an opportunity to undertake the chancel check to ascertain a property’s liability in advance of completion but clearly if you have purchased after 13th October 2013 and your conveyancer has not indicated any note on the property as to chancel repair liability, you will have escaped future liability.

If you are not sure whether you are affected, we would invite you to contact Liz Wallis, Alison Mason or Adam Fletcher who can discuss your concerns.

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