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01 Sep, 2023/ by Homeward Legal /Buyer, First Time Buyer, News

Most British villages and towns have at least one church within their parish boundaries. In medieval times and beyond, there was operating a tithe system, whereby villagers and townsfolk were obliged to pay a tenth of their earnings to the church to pay for its upkeep and the lower clergy that operated it, as the vicar received a stipend.

It was originally the rector's responsibility for paying for any repairs that the church's chancel required, as well as needing to take a wage for themselves for living expenses. 

Because of the land ownership generally being much larger in those days, when these were carved up for sale and for building on, there was a legal requirement, if the church wanted to act on it, for later owners of those houses to still have to pay for the inherited chancel repair (otherwise known as the chancel repair liability) as a pro rata proportion of what the original landowner was required to pay.

The other point with chancel liability is that it didn't necessarily have to be a local parish church that had a call on monies for repair, so the position became very confusing, particularly as there were so few instances of such payments having to be made, while the risk was still there.

The Land Registration Act 2002 provided a method of clarification. It impelled the parish church councils to register an interest in potentially collecting chancel repair liability in the future, giving them a deadline of October 2013. It also required them to register all affected land and properties with the Land Registry. What this process will not identify is the amount that will need to be paid should the church ever call the liability in.

This should make it an easy task for the conveyancing solicitor to identify whether the property you are planning to buy is registered with the Land Registry for such a purpose. 

Several thousand churches have made their interest known up to that deadline. But what makes it even more confusing still is that that deadline was a mark in the shifting sand. Any church who had not registered their interest by that point can still go ahead and highlight the chancel repair liability for any tract of land and property that they historically cover.

So, it's easier to establish some of the information as of the point of enquiry but not the level of risk that you will ever have to pay for any allotted chancel repair costs.

This can be quite worrying, especially if you're on a tight budget, and particularly as some documented cases have run into thousands of pounds. 

What's the best approach to dealing with this?

Your conveyancing solicitor will, of course, find out what the current position is, but there does exist insurance against the possibility of being liable for chancel repair, which is relatively cheap and straightforward to set up. It depends on your perception of the risk and whether you want to mitigate against it.

Worried about how to decide what to do? Your local conveyancing solicitor can guide you and help with the decision, using their knowledge of the area and the type of property you are planning to buy.

That's where Homeward Legal can really help with affordable but quality conveyancing services! 

Homeward Legal will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay for the standard conveyancing process.

There is the possibility, of course, of some unforeseen items that might arise during the purchase and/or sale, but the solicitor discusses these and their cost as they come up. 

In addition, to protect the homebuyer further, Homeward Legal operates a ‘no completion, no fee' promise, which ensures that, should the purchase or sale not go through as planned to completion status, no payment is required.

Call  to get your conveyancing quote started, or to discuss your concerns with your plans to move.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Homeward Legal's easy-to-use quote generator.

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