Chancel repair liability

Chancel Repair Liability

Chancel repair liability

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Chancel repair liability is a liability on some property owners in England and Wales to fund repairs to the chancel of their local church. This responsibility of owners of once rectorial land exists in perpetuity.

Since before the Reformation churches in England and Wales have been ministered by either a vicar, who received a stipend (salary), or a rector, who received tithes from the parish. The rectors (of around 5,200 churches) were responsible for the repairs of the chancel of their church, while the parish members were responsible for the rest. Many monasteries acquired rectorships and thus became liable for chancel repairs. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and sold their land, the chancel repair liability passed to the new owners and persists today, even after subdivision. These owners are called lay impropriators or lay rectors.

The recovery of funds from lay rectors is governed by the Chancel Repairs Act 1932.

The land may not have been adjacent to the church, and the liability may not have been recorded. It can be difficult to determine whether or not such liability applies to a particular piece of land as it may not be identified on the deeds nor at the Land Registry. Insurance can, however, be taken out to cover the costs of repairs. The premium is usually a relatively small amount, which is normally paid by the property owner on purchase covering the property for up to 25 years. Although very rarely used or invoked, the liability of landowners was brought...
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