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What is Chancel Repair Liability

On July 7, 2014

What is Chancel Repair Liability

Our clients often come to us asking what chancel repair liability is when buying a house. This is unsurprising as it’s unlikely that any homebuyer will have come into contact with chancel repair before, however it could affect a home’s future use or entail unexpected payments

What is ‘chancel’?

The chancel is the space around the altar and choir in an Anglican Parish church. 

What is chancel repair liability?

Some properties are liable to contribute to the cost of repairs to a church in close proximity.

Under chancel repair liability, homeowners who live within the parishes of churches are required to contribute towards any repairs made to the chancel.

The notion of chancel repair liability dates back to medieval times and the reign of King Henry VII, but the liability still persists today.

What is involved in chancel repair?

Originally chancel repair covered keeping the chancel watertight and maintaining essential fittings. Today, you may find that you are obligated to pay for improvements, repairs and decoration.

How do I know if I will be taxed?

Chancel repair liability has been described as unpredictable and its application highly irregular. The existence of chancel repair liability can be difficult to determine and will not always show up on the title deeds of a house. You conveyancing solicitor will be able to carry out a basic search to reveal whether the property is within a parish with a potential risk.

How is a chancel repair search carried out?

If appropriate, we may carry out a quick, inexpensive web based data check to find out whether a property is liable, however for you can pay for a full, formal Chancel Repair Search to be carried out at the records office of the National Archive. This will usually cost around £100-£150. It should be noted that even a full search may not be definitive and as such some people choose to take out insurance to ensure they can pay any claim made by the church.

How many properties are affected?

It has been reported that as many as one third of parishes could be entitled to recover chancel repairs from people who own all, or part of lands that would have historically been owned by the rector of the parish. There are as many as 5200 properties subject to chancel repair liability in the UK.

The best advice is to speak with your conveyancing solicitor if you are worried about chancel repair liability. Contact Peter Robinson Property Lawyers for more information today.

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