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Could Chancel Repair Liability Soon Be Abolished?

A Bill is being introduced into the House of Lords, which could eventually abolish the unfair and archaic chancel repair liability. If the Bill is eventually passed into law, home owners, including landlords, will no longer have to foot the bill for costly repairs to their local parish church.

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What is the Chancel Repair Liability? The law of chancel repair liability was originally an ecclesiastical liability, but it is now a civil one. Home owners, whose properties have been registered by the Church of England, can be asked to make contributions towards repairs of the chancel.

Once a property has been registered, liability is ongoing and the resale value is severely affected. It is not easy to establish whether a property is liable unless it’s on the deeds, but houses on rectorial land where a church rector traditionally lived are often affected.

The Law Commission and the Law Society have both recommended abolition of the law, with support from the Church of England’s Synod, but despite this many church authorities are still chasing homeowners for money to cover the cost of repairs.

The Wallbank Case The Wallbanks contested a demand from the church for cash towards chancel repairs, arguing that demands for money were ‘unchristian’ and a violation of their human rights. The case went all the way to the House of Lords, but ultimately they lost and were billed for half a million pounds, which was a lot more than the cost of the original chancel repair bill!

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