Solihull: 0121 705 7571
Dorridge: 01564 779393

Chancel Repair – What is it and am I liable to pay?

March 16, 2023

Brief History

Chancel repair dates to the 16th century when Henry the VIII was the ruler of England. After the sale of the monasteries, the liability of repairing the chancel passed from the monks to the new owner of the land. The repairs that take place are inside the church architecture, so the choir, the altar, and the sanctuary.  Therefore, the point of chancel repair is to help The Church of England maintain the architectural structure of the church.

How to Know You Are Liable and How Much do you Have to Pay

To find out if you are liable, a solicitor can carry out a search for a small fee. This will reveal if your property is in the proximity of a parish church which is liable for repairs. If the search reveals that you are liable to pay chancel repairs, it is recommended that you do not investigate it further, as this could deprive you the option for indemnity insurance.

Also, a clue may be in the name of your property/ street. For example, ‘Church Road’ or ‘Clergy House’. These could be indicators that your property may be located near a parish church which is liable, although it is important to note that chancel repair liability can exist regardless of the proximity to a Church. Therefore, it will always be safe for a solicitor to do a search.

The bill for chancel repairs can vary, however in a historic case Aston Cantlow Parochial Church Council v Wallbank a couple were served a bill upward of £100,000 and had to sell their home as a result to pay for chancel repairs.

After 13th October 2013 chancel repair became less of a problem because that was the ‘deadline’ for churches to register their liability over properties. Churches still have the right to register past this date, but it is more difficult because churches are unable to put a notice on the title register of the property after it has changed hands for ‘valuable consideration’ i.e. transferred for money. Although, if a property was received by way of a gift or through inheritance and the property was owned before October 2013, you could still be liable for chancel repairs and potentially face being hit with a bill. Also, even if a notice is not registered on the title register, this should not be relied upon and an official search should still be made. If your property is unregistered, the church can put a caution on the property to uphold their right to demand for repairs. After 13th October 2013, the church can still put a caution on the property, but only if the property has not been sold after that date. If the property then becomes registered (normally by compulsory registration, triggered by a conveyance) the person who lodged the caution on the property has a right to oppose first registration of the property and put a notice on the register, in order to protect their interest.

How to Protect Yourself

If you want to protect yourself from chancel repairs, it is recommended that you take out indemnity insurance to protect you from cost of repairs, this is mostly a one-off payment lasting the term of ownership, 25 years, or a lifetime. If you have not made a search, therefore do not know if you are liable, this will cost around £20. If you have made a search and are aware of liability, this could cost above £40.

If you feel like your property may be affected by Chancel Repair, do not hesitate to get in touch with our property team.

Phone Number: 0121 705 7571

Email Address:

Oliver Wheldon
Paralegal – Development Department

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.