Chancel repair liability can cost you a fortune if you're buying, inheriting or moving into an affected property, but there’s insurance to protect you from local church bills.
Chancel repair liability is a law that requires some landowners to pay for repairs to their local church.
It only applies to landowners in England and Wales whose buildings are situated on land formerly owned by the monastery.
Chancel repair liability insurance will protect you from the cost you’d have to pay to the Church, including legal expenses.
It covers any repairs you’ll have to pay for, so you’re not caught out by a large and unexpected bill.
The Parochial Church Council can choose which properties need to pay and the bill could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The church can apply the bill to a small handful of houses, rather than the whole parish.
If you’re thinking about buying a property within the boundaries of a parish church council, talk to your solicitor about whether you’ll be liable to pay chancel repair costs. It's something that should come up in the searches that are done during the house-buying process.
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Chancel repair liability is sometimes stated on the title deeds to your house, but not always.
Your solicitor can run a ChancelCheck Search to see if you’re liable.
However, the ChancelCheck Search will only tell you if there’s a possibility of liability.
If that is the case, you'll be advised to take out an indemnity insurance policy to protect you form the potential cost.
However, due to the risk involved being actually quite small, indemnity policies for chancel repair are inexpensive and less than the cost of the search itself - so it might be a cheaper option just to take it out if you're in an affected area.
You can use The National Archives to find the chancel repair liability of your parish for free.
Or, you can use the paid search service to find out about liability in your specific parish.
Just be warned that neither are legally binding so the onus is still on you to find out for sure the status of your home.
Always consult your solicitor, who will advise whether an indemnity policy is worthwhile.
The Church had to register which properties would pay chancel repair costs with the Land Registry before 13 October 2013.
If you live in or are buying a new build property that was built after 13 October 2013, you probably won’t be liable.
But never assume - the church can still register an interest in the property before it's registered with the Land Registry, even if it’s built after 13 October 2013.
It may not show up on the title deeds, so check with your solicitor.
The developer may advise that’s it’s aware of the parish, but not whether the property is affected.
Chancel repair liability insurance will protect you from the cost you’d have to pay to the Church, including legal expenses
Businesses are less likely to be affected by chancel repair liability.
Paul Hajek, principal at Clutton Cox conveyancing says, “Many businesses rent or lease properties and it's not the leaseholder who would be liable but the owner of the property.”
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