28 May Buyers Watch Out!
Ever heard of Chancel Repair Liability?
Few people have, but it could potentailly be a real problem.
The liability relates to the historic responsibility for upkeep of a church being divided between the rector and the parishioners. Under the Chancel Repairs Act 1932 a Parochial Church Council has the power to serve a demand for the cost or contributions towards the cost of repairing the church chancel. In the event that the owner fails to pay then the PCC can enforce the demand through the courts.
Rectors were historically responsible for the upkeep of church chancels and when the lands of the rector later became divided by sale into private ownership the responsibility to repair the chancel would have passed with the proportions of the land sold off to the successor owners to the rector. The land need not necessarily be adjacent to an identifiable church.
In a recent case the owners of a property in Stratford Upon Avon were ultimately held liable for chancel repairs to their local parish church exceeding £95,000.
Luckily this is a risk that you can insure against when you buy your house so make sure you speak to your solicitor about this.