Chancel Repair Liability
We are often approached by clients asking about Chancel repair after being warned about the dangers of this medieval tax.
So what is it?
In a nutshell, it is an archaic tax created in medieval times when a wealthy land owner would gift part of his land to the church and allowed them to tax people who lived within the land for, amongst other things, repairs to the church.
The Chancel part of it is actually the part of the Church behind the Communion Rail (the bit where the choir and the clergy use).
What's the issue?
The issue is that there was a case called Cantlow v Wallbanks when the Church was able to claim for repairs because this chancel liability still existed. This then sent Solicitors running around looking at ways to protect their clients from this.
To further exacerbate matters, the standard Chancel search is not definitive enough so only a trip to the national archives or a whole heap of investigative work can confirm 100% whether there is a liability and clients are often loath to pay several thousand pounds to find out this point.
To add further pressure and following the above case, the government stepped in and set up an order that all medieval parishes had to be registered by October 2013.
What's likely to happen?
The Church is likely to put a considerable amount of effort in to registering all the parishes — they will check the old records and we will suddenly find houses which cannot be sold due to chancel liabilities over them.
So...what can we do...?
We are now going to insist on you obtaining a chancel repair policy when you have a mortgage lender. This is simply because even if you wish to take the risk, your mortgage lender will know that we have not acted in their best interest if we did not protect them from this.
The policy costs just £14.95 and there is a very modest administration fee of £20.00 plus VAT (£24.00 total) for obtaining this for you.
As you can tell, we are only doing this to act in your best interests and we welcome your support in this matter.