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Chancel Repair Liabilities


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So total bill was about £1000.

Hell will have to freeze over before I ever put money in a church collection again?

It does rather seem to be a case of shooting themselves in the foot doesn't it?!

My vague understanding from talking to someone that seems to know about this stuff is that 99% of the churches in question absolutely don't want anything to do with the chancel tax but have been told, presumably by the CoE central bureaucracy that, if they don't, then the local church council (or whatever it's called) will instead be personally liable for the repair costs. My guess is some ar5ehole lawyer went over the relevant laws and, having found something obscure, did the usual lawyer thing of scaring everyone to death with might be's rather than actual likelihoods.

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Edit, made mistake by replying to post rather than just adding separate post. apologies TheBlueCat

Previous thread from 2009, centres on the Wallbanks:

http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=126629&st=0&p=2169589&hl=+chancel%20+repair%20+liability&fromsearch=1entry2169589

A couple being taken to the cleaners for everything they have in the most vicious manner possible short of violence. What was Welby saying about poverty?

Edited by The B.L.T.
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I've thought this is surprisingly little-known problem and advised somebody at work on it when it came on his property search.

It means that your house, and you as owner of it, may suddenly get a big repair bill for the local church.

This story though contains one thing that I didn't know:

It won't always come up in conveyancing:

And can be massive:

Churches are now registering loads of previously unaware people as lay rectors and so responsible:

Now whilst being one of 5,725 is less of a problem than being one of one it's still a shock.

I had thought that buying a property with this on could be avoided by a simple search, but it seems that that hasn't been the case but will be in future.

It forms part of my "wouldn't look at a house if it" list:

  • Was listed

  • Has Chancel Repair Liability

  • Has "rent a roof" (as opposed to owned) solar panels

I'm glad it's being reformed so you can now know about it and avoid it but some more people will be getting a shock. And it's not just old houses, it's the land. The colleague I advised was buying a new build.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530943/Church-repair-hit-thousands-Homeowners-face-huge-bills-ancient-laws-regardless-religion.html

A non issue. This came up on our new build we bought in 2009. You just buy a lifetime insurance policy against any claim as the current owner. Policy cost about £50. Policy is for you though not the house so it's not transferable, if you sell the newownerswill have to get their own policy.

M

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You'll note I said 99% of churches.

Apologies, I hit Reply rather than add a separate reply so was not taking issue with your post immediately prior. I have amended my post.

That said, it would be nice to hear a bit more from the other churches about the treatment of the Wallbanks. The tumbleweed is rolling.

A person involved in a local church has told me how inhumane they felt the treatment of the Wallbanks was when I first became aware of Chancel Repair Liabilities in the summer.

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A non issue. This came up on our new build we bought in 2009. You just buy a lifetime insurance policy against any claim as the current owner. Policy cost about £50. Policy is for you though not the house so it's not transferable, if you sell the newownerswill have to get their own policy.

M

Perhaps if you read post 17 you would change your mind. Things changed since 2009 so bear in mind now, that many insurance companies will no longer offer insurance if the church have lodged the CRL on your deeds.

Please don't be so dismissive of people that have found themselves in this very worrying situation.

Please also consider that when you come to sell, the new potential owners may not be able to get insurance and could walk away. You should have gone for a policy that is successor and in perpetuity.

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Sounds like you were lucky in that both firms were still around, in many cases they won't be.

If you are within the time period of the 'statute of liability' then the Law Society Ombudsman will pick up the case. I know this, as the Solicitor I am going after has died and his practice disbanded.

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My vague understanding from talking to someone that seems to know about this stuff is that 99% of the churches in question absolutely don't want anything to do with the chancel tax but have been told, presumably by the CoE central bureaucracy that, if they don't, then the local church council (or whatever it's called) will instead be personally liable for the repair costs. My guess is some ar5ehole lawyer went over the relevant laws and, having found something obscure, did the usual lawyer thing of scaring everyone to death with might be's rather than actual likelihoods.

The church have been very clever / devious on this one. No one senior person or department can be accused of being responsible for the CRL. Instead they have filtered responsibility down through the ranks till it arrived at individual churches in which there is a PCC (parochial church council). According to the ancient law it is this PCC who are responsible for getting the money.

Some PCCs were so against it in Christian principle that they did no pursue it, but others, run by frightened little people, went at it with gusto.

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Perhaps if you read post 17 you would change your mind. Things changed since 2009 so bear in mind now, that many insurance companies will no longer offer insurance if the church have lodged the CRL on your deeds.

Please don't be so dismissive of people that have found themselves in this very worrying situation.

Please also consider that when you come to sell, the new potential owners may not be able to get insurance and could walk away. You should have gone for a policy that is successor and in perpetuity.

Basic question - how would you know whether the CRL is lodged on your deeds?

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You would contact the land registry to check the register entry if your land is registered (or if your land is unregistered whether there are any claims pending for when the land is first registered).

You can go to the land registry web site and download your entry for £3. The Land Registry wrote to us as soon as the CRL was put on our deeds, but as you can imagine with the numbers involved they are a bit behind.

Bear in mind that if you do find an entry then you have to declare it when you take out insurance, and you are responsible for knowing its there as the Land Registry is essentially an open book and ignorance of any entries is not an excuse.

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You can go to the land registry web site and download your entry for £3. The Land Registry wrote to us as soon as the CRL was put on our deeds, but as you can imagine with the numbers involved they are a bit behind.

Bear in mind that if you do find an entry then you have to declare it when you take out insurance, and you are responsible for knowing its there as the Land Registry is essentially an open book and ignorance of any entries is not an excuse.

Also be aware, that if your property has a liability, then the Church has until it is next sold to register the CRL at the Land Registry. Many people will get caught out.

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Also be aware, that if your property has a liability, then the Church has until it is next sold to register the CRL at the Land Registry. Many people will get caught out.

Good point. The wording is also important here; the church has until the property is *sold* - inheritance or gifting of the property does not result in the time limit expiring.

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Good point. The wording is also important here; the church has until the property is *sold* - inheritance or gifting of the property does not result in the time limit expiring.

I think I read somewhere that only 1 in 7 houses is sold every year, so it will take about 50 years for most houses to be clear of any potential liability.

And every house includes an innocent unsuspecting family. The Church really is quite odious.

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There is a much more sinister side to the work of the Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) that orchestrate these CRLs

These people are unpaid local volunteers with local rivalries and scores to settle much like the rest of us. They now have been presented with a way to do just that, by having the right to place a CRL against anyone that has upset them.

The PCCs are accountable to nobody. You can get good odds that they will not have placed a CRL against themselves or their friends, and being a charitable group are outside of the Freedom of Information Act so are beyond public inspection.

Its all pretty disgusting.

Edited by bumpy
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You can go to the land registry web site and download your entry for £3. The Land Registry wrote to us as soon as the CRL was put on our deeds, but as you can imagine with the numbers involved they are a bit behind.

Bear in mind that if you do find an entry then you have to declare it when you take out insurance, and you are responsible for knowing its there as the Land Registry is essentially an open book and ignorance of any entries is not an excuse.

Interesting - I was wondering if there was some requirement to notify but for 3 quid I will just have a nose anyway.

Edited by GARCH
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This raises two questions for me:

1 Why is this even possible in a developed country in the 21st century?

2 What are the church doing attempting to enforce it?

Sure, it's the law but then it's technically legal to spear a Welshman after midnight in Worcester (or something like that). What a ridiculus law and shame on the church for trying to enforce it.

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My guess is that if the Church ever try to come after you for money, rather than taking the legal route, picket the church every Sunday to make the members feel ashamed.

In this day and age it is totally unchristian for the PCC to take this action.

Hopefully, they will go after a Muslim!

Also, as a Rector, what rights do you have? Can you close the church? Probably you may have a right to sit on the PCC.

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My guess is that if the Church ever try to come after you for money, rather than taking the legal route, picket the church every Sunday to make the members feel ashamed.

Yes you could really intimidate those three old ladies! That would sort the whole matter out pretty quick!

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1 Why is this even possible in a developed country in the 21st century?

Lots of countries have arcane laws that no-one has bothered to repeal. A more important question is why the Brown government actually refused to do so and defended its existence when asked a question in the Commons about it in 2008. I suspect the real reason to be that they assumes that everyone affected by this is a Tory-voting Countryside Alliance type, and acted accordingly.

2 What are the church doing attempting to enforce it?

That to me is the more difficult question to answer. It seems to me that either you should have a strict constitutional separation of church and state, a la the US, or a more fairly run government scheme such as the one in Germany, in which you have to register with the tax authorities which religious grouping you belong to (or none), and then a tithe is collected for them through PAYE. The system the UK has, whereby the C of E has various constitutional privileges (not just CRL, but bishops in the House of Lords, the constitutional status of canon law, etc. etc.), but only something like 3% of the population are active members, is fundamentally unfair and unchristian. As I wrote in an earlier post, I was baptised and confirmed into the C of E, but then left it and joined another Christian church, primarily in protest at that.

In the long term, the C of E's leadership is increasing the chances that the UK will become a republic through actions like this. Due to Prince Charles's unpopularity, I suspect that there will be a serious debate about the constitution after The Queen dies, and especially if Labour is in power at the time. The role of the C of E will form a part of that debate. Keeping in mind that many of the people who have been f***ed over by CRL, Prince Charles enforcing arcane duchy taxes, mining rights and that sort of thing are well educated and likely to be involved in at the least local politics, we could well be in a situation whereby precisely the demographic who you'd expect to support the constitutional monarchy support moves to scrap it, and especially the C of E's existing legal privileges and public subsidies.

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That to me is the more difficult question to answer. It seems to me that either you should have a strict constitutional separation of church and state, a la the US, or a more fairly run government scheme such as the one in Germany, in which you have to register with the tax authorities which religious grouping you belong to (or none), and then a tithe is collected for them through PAYE. The system the UK has, whereby the C of E has various constitutional privileges (not just CRL, but bishops in the House of Lords, the constitutional status of canon law, etc. etc.), but only something like 3% of the population are active members, is fundamentally unfair and unchristian. As I wrote in an earlier post, I was baptised and confirmed into the C of E, but then left it and joined another Christian church, primarily in protest at that.

In the long term, the C of E's leadership is increasing the chances that the UK will become a republic through actions like this. Due to Prince Charles's unpopularity, I suspect that there will be a serious debate about the constitution after The Queen dies, and especially if Labour is in power at the time. The role of the C of E will form a part of that debate. Keeping in mind that many of the people who have been f***ed over by CRL, Prince Charles enforcing arcane duchy taxes, mining rights and that sort of thing are well educated and likely to be involved in at the least local politics, we could well be in a situation whereby precisely the demographic who you'd expect to support the constitutional monarchy support moves to scrap it, and especially the C of E's existing legal privileges and public subsidies.

Can we scrap the House of Lords too and be an actual democracy?

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I will endeavour over the next few days to answer all the questions posed on this thread. People forget that the liability has been transferred into land by parliament by acts of parliament over a period of 250 years or so. The asset cannot now be removed by parliament now because the Human rights laws prevent a government from taking something without compensation. Since for about 3000 of the churches who have the liability it has never been possible to claim the money in the first place I would imagine the government would not want to compensate a church for an asset it could never access.

The result has been something slightly bonkers

Firstly Each PCC has to find the balance between protecting the churches assets which it has to do because a church is subject to charity law and doing what is in the best interest of the charity in the wider view. There are some places where a PCC have to register which are normally where the current owners are the people who gained the land with the condition they would repair the chancel (normally applies to ancient landed entities like colleges or noble families). There are are a few cases where the current owners have a form of indemnity granted by a previous land owner possibly over 200 years ago and so the PCC gives the bill to the current land owner who then hands it over to some one else and this has been happening for many years. With the change in law a PCC was obliged to register the liability on the land or possibly loose the asset and I am guessing of the 247 cases possibly over half fit in the above categories if not more so.

The law is very complicated and a number of PCC's have registered the wrong land as a result of misunderstanding the documents and I am aware of least 7 parishes which fit into that category.

I blog about this in my very geeky blog http://chancelrepairliability.blogspot.co.uk

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I will endeavour over the next few days to answer all the questions posed on this thread. People forget that the liability has been transferred into land by parliament by acts of parliament over a period of 250 years or so. The asset cannot now be removed by parliament now because the Human rights laws prevent a government from taking something without compensation. Since for about 3000 of the churches who have the liability it has never been possible to claim the money in the first place I would imagine the government would not want to compensate a church for an asset it could never access.

The result has been something slightly bonkers

Firstly Each PCC has to find the balance between protecting the churches assets which it has to do because a church is subject to charity law and doing what is in the best interest of the charity in the wider view. There are some places where a PCC have to register which are normally where the current owners are the people who gained the land with the condition they would repair the chancel (normally applies to ancient landed entities like colleges or noble families). There are are a few cases where the current owners have a form of indemnity granted by a previous land owner possibly over 200 years ago and so the PCC gives the bill to the current land owner who then hands it over to some one else and this has been happening for many years. With the change in law a PCC was obliged to register the liability on the land or possibly loose the asset and I am guessing of the 247 cases possibly over half fit in the above categories if not more so.

The law is very complicated and a number of PCC's have registered the wrong land as a result of misunderstanding the documents and I am aware of least 7 parishes which fit into that category.

I blog about this in my very geeky blog http://chancelrepairliability.blogspot.co.uk

What happens when a church is closed and demolished?

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One of the questions people often ask me is what do we do if the liability is registered on our land.

The first response for a land owner is to obtain form UN4 from the land registry to cancel the liability and this should force a PCC to provide the evidence of the liability.

Not all liabilities are equal since the vast majority of liability is not personal and several (or joint and several) most of it is covered by the 1936 Tithe act, record of ascertainments for a parish where the liability is apportioned out. The apportioning out can mean that each plot is liable to as little as 0.001% of a chancel although it can be as much as 10% but it depends on the history of the parish.

The personal and several liabilities are enclosure award based liability, merged land and tithe (often hard to trace) and impropitiated glebe which is slightly contentious if it is liable but the first form of liability is the one that is normally registered and traceable.

If the liability is genuine the next action of a householder may be to offer to compound it or pay the PCC off by writing to the local Diocesan Board of Finance and this may not be a particularly large sum. For instance Aston Cantlow Chancel was compounded for £36,500 and if a person owned a plot of land that was liable for .005% of a chancel the compound payment could be in the region of £2.

Even for the personal and several forms of liability it is apparently possible to pay part of the liability off so if there was a 100 acres of land bearing the liability and someone wanted to compounded 1 acre the figure could be around £400.

For compounding to take place both the diocesan Board of Finance and PCC have to agree to it but may well be a lot cheaper than taking insurance out and it is certainly the angle I would suggest people followed. The final authority on compounding is the Church Commissioners but the law for it was written before the liability was deemed to be personal and several hence it seems to be a lot lower than would otherwise been considered to be correct.

One of my lectures on this subject is on you tube but it isn't very exciting

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