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Chancel Repair Liability...

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… still  a concern for property owners !

There has been a good deal of press coverage about ‘chancel repair liability’. It has a long and complicated history and is now regarded by many as something of an anachronism.  It can also lead to very substantial demands – for tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds  – by a Parochial Church Council  (PCC) for contributions towards the cost of maintenance of the chancel. Such claims can lead to bankruptcy.

It has never been an easy process to determine whether a property is subject to such liability but, from October 2013, we have moved a step closer.

On 13th October 2013 Chancel Repair Liability ceased to be an overriding interest. This means that, for registered land, the PCC must register the chancel repair liability or it will cease to be enforceable against future purchasers of the property.  At any time before such a purchase, a  PCC may register chancel repair liability.

In the case of unregistered land, chancel repair liability will continue in the same way but must be protected by notice or a caution at the time of first registration or the new owner will take free from it.

However, a notice to lodge chancel repair liability can be made during a priority period and the Land Registry has recently provided an indication of how they will deal with this situation: they will register the disposition (eg the transfer to the purchaser) and the notice (to protect the PCC’s claim to chancel repair liability).

The proprietor can apply to cancel the chancel repair liability notice but if an agreement cannot be reached, the dispute can be referred to the Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal and no applications will be registered until the objection is resolved.

 Advice to PCCs has been issued by :

The Church of England
Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod
Exeter Diocese
Charity Commission

Sources:

‘Chancel Repair Liability still an issue for conveyancers’, Law Society (16th December 2013), http://goo.gl/0TcK2q

‘Practice Guide 66- Overriding Interests losing automatic protection in 2013’, Land Registry, (October 2013), http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/professional/guides/practice-guide-66

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