What is Chancel Repair Liability?
Chancel Repair Liability stems from medieval times and is the liability of a landowner to pay for the repair of the chancel of a parish church. It was generally considered to be of academic interest only, until it shot to prominence about ten years ago when Andrew and Gail Wallbank, owners of Glebe Farm in Warwickshire, were ordered to pay nearly £200,000 for repairs to their local church.
In 1925, the government introduced a system of land ownership based on registration and backed by state guarantee, with the aims of creating a system of land ownership founded on transparency and reliability. This system was refined, in 2002 to increase the extent to which the register of title to a property is conclusive, by extending those rights which must be registered at the Land Registry. As a result, for the majority of cases, unless a property right or interest is registered, then it will not bind a purchaser of property. However, there still remains a group of ‘overriding interests’ that continue to bind subsequent property owners, regardless of whether or not they are registered at the Land Registry (or, in the case of unregistered land appear in the title deeds) at the time of acquisition and even though the purchaser may not know about them.
Until recently, Chancel Repair Liability fell within this category of ‘overriding interests’ and did not need to be registered against the title to be binding on subsequent land owners. The changes In a further attempt to make the register of title to a property as conclusive as possible, the Government reduced the number of overriding interests meaning that, from 13 October 2013, Chancel Repair Liability (as well as some other less common third party rights) will only be capable of protection against a subsequent purchaser by registration of a notice against the property title at the Land Registry and will no longer automatically override dispositions. As a result, properties acquired for valuable consideration after 13 October 2013 will transfer free of the liability, provided that liability has not already been noted on the register of title to the property.
Properties which are subject to Chancel Repair Liability that has not been protected by a notice on the register will continue to remain so until the next sale for value, as they were bought at a time when Chancel Repair Liability remained an overriding interest. Such properties will continue to be at risk of a notice being placed on their title to protect Chancel Repair Liability until a transfer for valuable consideration occurs and the Chancel’s right to enforce such liabilities does not cease automatically after October 2013. For further information on Chancel Repair Liability, please contact Simon Wake at firstname.lastname@example.org
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