Monday, 14 October 2013

Chancel Repair Liability - Final Tolling of the Bell?

The bell tolled for chancel repair liability at mid-night on 12 October 2013.

It's no longer an overriding interest, meaning for the Church to be able to enforce the liability against future owners buying property from 13 October 2013, it must be noted on the property register.

So does that mean chancel repair liability is now consigned to the dust-covered recesses of legal history and we can forget all about it?

Not quite.

Land will be immune from the risk of chancel repair liability if it's sold for value and the liability has not been noted on the register.*

But anyone who's owned property since before 13 October 2013 continues to be at risk potentially, depending on where the property is located.

Which means if they want to mortgage or remortgage their property, you would still have to do a chancel search and buy insurance if the property is in at at-risk area - because a mortgage isn't a transfer of the property for value.

Nor is a gift - so there's a potential risk with giving too.

Or you might be buying a company that owns property in an at-risk area. Again, if there's been no actual transfer of property for value since 13 October 2013, you would still need to do a search and, if necessary, buy insurance.

If you're taking a lease of property where the freehold hasn't been transferred since 13 October 2013, then that's a potential risk too, since most leases will pass on any liability, albeit in some catch-all covenant, to the tenant.

Not quite the witching hour then for the humble chancel search after all.

*Although if the property is in an area that has been identified as being at risk, there remains the possibility that the Church could register its interest between the date of your office copy entries and the date on which you receive your Land Registry priority search and subsequently complete.

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