With the date of 13 October 2013 looming we all thought that certainty had finally arrived with regard to the question of whether a property was still liable to chancel repair liability or not. Chancel repair liability is the liability of the owner of land to pay for the repair of the chancel of a parish church. Approximately 5,200 churches are entitled to demand monies to repair their chancels. No longer would we be stuck, we thought, with the ridiculous dilemma of whether it is better to obtain indemnity insurance without knowing if a property was subject to such liability or to investigate further and risk higher indemnity insurance premiums. As from 13 October 2013, we believed, that any properties where details of such liability had not been registered would no longer be subject to this liability. Certainty, at last!
However, according to the Land Registry, such liability does not cease to exist if it has not been registered before 13 October 2013. Where property was registered at the Land Registry before 13 October 2013 it remains subject to chancel repair liability. If someone buys that property for money or other valuable consideration after 12 October 2013 and no notice of the chancel repair liability has been registered then the buyer will buy it free from the liability. But until the property has been sold then the Church can continue to protect its right to recover chancel repair costs by entry of a notice on the title. The insurers win again!