The End of Chancel Repair?
A key date in the conveyancing diary is 13th October 2013. It is important because this is the date by which parochial church councils in England or the representative of the church in Wales must apply to the Land Registry for registration of a notice on the title of registered land or for a caution against unregistered land to put buyers on notice that chancel repair liability may exist in respect of the property.
It has been much talked about that if they fail to register by midnight on 12th October 2013 that liability is not enforceable against the current owner of the land. This is a misconception. They can continue to register after this date and they only lose the right to register this interest until a date after 13th October 2013 when the specific property is sold. That sale would therefore remove any potential liability for chancel repair in the absence of registration.
Clearly, the church have either already registered or are in the process of registering a number of interests or are deliberating as to whether or not they should now register to protect their right to recover chancel payments. The fee for registration for them is free up until 13th October 2013. There will be a fee thereafter but they may still register.
It is not suggested that parties look to sell their property after 13th October 2013 with the sole intention of defeating any potential liability to chancel repair. However, it may be worth putting in place chancel insurance for those properties that have not had interests noted up until 13th October 2013 if there is a risk revealed by a chancel search because it is likely that the cost of chancel repair insurance will increase after 13th October 2013 if registration has occurred. This is assuming that chancel insurance remains a possibility if such interests are registered although it is foreseen that this cash insurance cow will continue.
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