Since Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries some properties come with a liability to contribute to the repair of the chancel of a Church. This applies to all types of property and can be a significant liability.
Until the 13th October 2013 this liability passed with the land even if not mentioned anywhere in the title.
There was a famous case in 2003 where a Mr and Mrs Wallbank were handed a bill for £95,000.00. The validity of that bill was upheld by the House of Lords but they also had to pay both parties costs which were many times that.
As from the 13th October 2013 this liability will cease to apply to property once it is sold to a purchaser for valuable consideration and provided the liability has not previously been noted on the title. Thus property passing by gift or by will, for example, can still be bound by this liability.
There is a simple search that can be carried out which indicates whether properties in any particular parish could possibly be liable. If you have not bought your property in the last few years then it may be worth considering carrying out such a search. If it is in such a parish then insurance is available for a one-off premium. A full search should never be carried out without legal advice.
Although the Parochial Church Councils are responsible for registering a note of these rights against titles it appears few have done so. There have been no reports of claims since the unfortunate Wallbanks. However, the consequences are severe and insurance relatively cheap.
Further details please contact Malcolm Poynter on 01635 521212 or firstname.lastname@example.org