Chancel repair liability is the historic liability for
parishioners, attached to their property, to contribute for the
upkeep of a church chancel. Under the Chancel Repairs Act 1932 the
Parochial Church Council ("PCC") has the power to serve a
demand on a property owner to pay towards the cost of repairing the
chancel. If the owner fails to pay, the PCC can demand payment
through the courts.
If a liability is established, that liability may be joint and
several so that the owner of a particular property may be called
upon to cover the whole cost of repairing the chancel.
Whilst any address containing reference to "Vicarage",
"Rectory", "Glebe" or "Manor" may be
indicative of a possible liability, it is important to note that
the land in question need not be near a particular church.
How can I find out if my property is liable?
We use the "Chancel Check" search which establishes
from records stored in the National Archive whether the Property
falls within a parish that has a potential repair liability. Where
appropriate insurance can be taken out which will cost on average
£100 and somewhat more for commercial property.
A more formal search can be carried out at a cost of
approximately £150. However, you should be aware that if a
liability is discovered, you will no longer be able to insure
against the risk of 'potential' liability. Enquiries of
your local vicar or parish council may only serve to put them on
notice of a possible claim against your property.
Should I be concerned?
A decision in the House of Lords resulted in a liability for one
couple of £95,000. However, the court did express in its
judgment the unfair nature of the liability and called for its
The law has now changed so that PCC's must have their
chancel repair liability registered at the Land Registry against
the title of liable properties by 13 October 2013. It is likely
that before the cutoff date PCCs will make some efforts to register
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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