Musings of Chancel

On the Brockley forum, JCambridge has raised an issue which we'd never heard about before and deserves wider attention:

We are currently buying a property in Brockley and have been informed by our Solicitor it is in an area that potentially be subject to Chancel Repair Liability. This is where a local church can force you to pay for repairs, however you have to pay full a full search to find out what church it relates to and whether you are indeed liable. 

Has anyone paid for a search and what was the findings? It usually relates to Medieval Churches and having researched I suspect it could relate to the Premonstratensian Abbey in Brockley that was once on the site of the current St Peters church. 

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I paid for it - having heard horror stories about it, I felt that £25 was a small price to pay. We're in the west side and it came up with nothing.

SJ said...

We had that with our house - we did the search and found it was in the chancel repair area. We decided to go ahead as our solicitor said that it was very low risk but there are nightmare stories out there. The cost would be divided between each household in the area which brings it down but it's really up to you.

Ms L said...

I'm surprised you've never heard about it, it's certainly affected both properties I've bought in Lewisham and as far as I know, affects the majority of UK properties. You can get insurance for it, it's about £25 as someone else mentioned and solicitors tend to offer it as standard now after a couple was hit with huge chancel repair fees some years back.

Anonymous said...

I think you can get a chancel indemnity - my colleague says it cost her £65 (she doesn't live in Brockley) and that would immunise you against any claims...

SJ said...

Our chancel indemnity was definitely less than £100 so well worth it

Wally said...

"In the vast majority of ecclesiastical parishes (into which all of
England and Wales is split) chancel repair liability is not applicable.
However it was brought into use for the first time in a few years in
2003 in a particularly lightly populated glebe. Andrew and Gail Wallbank
received a demand for almost £100,000 to fund repairs of their ecclesiastical parish's medieval church at Aston Cantlow. After a protracted legal battle, as they sought to challenge this ruling, the Law Lords found in favour of the Parochial Church Council, leaving the Wallbanks with a £350,000 bill including legal costs.[6][7]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chancel_repair_liability#Wallbank_case


Wow.

CK said...

Yes I was told this when buying a property 5 years ago in Brockley. I was advised that it shouldn't really affect anything and low chance. I didn't pay for the search.

Tim Arnold said...

Yes, we went through this when buying our property. I can't remember the outcome - I think that our solicitor said, "You may be liable, you should consider buying insurance."

Although there are a couple of landmark cases where property owners have had to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds, we reasoned that there are no truly ancient churches in Brockley, and also that this is a densely-populated area so liability would most likely be split between a lot of people. We weighed it up and decided we'd prefer not to spend another £X at an already very expensive time. We also knew that there was a change in the law coming:

"Chancel Repair Liability has existed for several centuries and the Government has no plans to abolish it or to introduce a scheme for its redemption. The Government has, however, acted to make the existence of the liability much simpler to discover. From October 2013, chancel repair liability will only bind buyers of registered land if it is referred to on the land register. By that time, virtually all freehold land in England and Wales will be registered. The Government believes that this approach strikes a fair balance between the landowners subject to the liability and its owners who are, in England, generally Parochial Church Councils and, in Wales, the Representative Body of the Church in Wales."

So yeah, you pays your money (or not) and takes your choice/chance.

Rich Carter-Hounslow said...

I'm just about to exchange contracts on a place in Ravensbourne Park, Catford (so virtually on the border of Brockley and was warned about this. It's cost me £13.50 to indemnify myself against it.

roysavage said...

ridiculous consideringhow wealthy the church is.

roysavage said...

yikes! This says more about the Church. Money grabbing hypocrites.

anonymous said...

We took a chance and decided not to bother when we bought our place in Malpas Rd. Be aware though that the system is based on medieval parishes - the church may be nowhere near your property. In practise, the church v rarely enforces this as it is v bad publicity - especially if it affects poor areas.

They'd (probably) also have had to have got their act together and served notice on homeowners in the area by now because the law changes on 12 October 2013 and the church will no longer be able to enforce chancel liability.

cbw said...

Buy an indemnity insurance policy, as others have said. Not worth the risk - see Aston Cantlow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chancel_repair_liability).

terrencetrentderby said...

Why waste your money when there are no pre-reformation churches in the area?

The guy who invented Chancelcheck has made millions. The insurance is just money for old rope.

Anon said...

I paid £15 when I bought my property. I'm on the corner of Lewisham way and wickham road.

Funny though, I was told discussing it with neighbours made the policy invalid. Hence choosing to remain anon

Greg Yerbury said...

I have investigated Brockley and there is liability tied to St Mary's Lewisham the church may have been rebuilt but the liability continues and it would seem that this liability has been apportioned by the 1936 tithe act where she each allotment takes a fractional liability of the chancel something like for every £10,000 of damage is responsible for £10 and. The details of the actual fields and amount can be downloaded from national archives here which is Lewisham's record of Ascertainments
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D7296005

to find the fields there is a need to get hold of the 1843 tithe map from

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C2302338

and then see if the fields can be located when compared with a modern map.

There are several unusual forms of liability that could exist but very unlikely to do so in Lewisham which are not apportioned by the 1936 act. To trace them it would be needed to use the same maps and use the tithe apportionment form below

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C2290479

There is liability in Brockley probably only apportioned which accounts for the vast majority of liabilities. So chancel check is correct but how easy is it for the 1843 map to be matched up with a modern map in Brockley? Is it work a church to do so and would they do so?

I blog about this subject

http://chancelrepairliability.blogspot.co.uk/



Greg

THillHels said...

We were told our Tele Hill flat might be liable, but that searches didn't always show up poss issues. We were advised to paid £30 or so for an indemnity against liability.

Greg Yerbury said...

Indeed searches do not, but in a built up area with no enclosure award actually tracing any liability on a tithe map is very difficult. it would cost a church many thousands of pounds to sort the map out even if it were possible.I have files on my computer that suggest the liability is only apportioned indeed it would be remarkable if it were not. The potential liability on a worst case situation and you were living on the wrong allotment ie the chancel fell down is probably about £2 and it would cost a PCC about £15 to collect it from you and that is after they have spend thousands on converting the map. You have under the 1936 tithe act a right of appeal which would cost the church more.

In parts of the country were there are enclosure awards causing the liability and a traceable map there is a risk and there are about 600 of those.

My researched lists of places is on the top left of (4a and 4b) they are not perfect since I have found one more place since the lists were written http://www.stmichaelspenkridge.co.uk/chancellinks.html

There are other liabilities which are only traceable by looking at the tithe apportionment. In a built up area were the land has changed a lot over the last 100 years it can't be found.

Also by far the majority of churches are opting to not register the liability even if it can be found.

I paid £25 for insurance pre my research I know now it would have been better investment to go out for lunch. CRL insurance in built up areas is not a scam since there is a liability but in essence in cities you are taking out the equivalent to insurance to being bitten by a hamster.

Jane Choo said...

Hi, just seen this post. I moved to Brockley a couple of years ago and came across this medieval anomaly. We decided at the time it was best to just insure rather than end up like the Wallbanks who lost hundreds of thousands. We went direct to a company called CLS who were really helpful...... I think you can order it online as well as over the phone. We didn't want to risk it and feel for the amount of money its worth just doing it.
Hope this helps. Jane

Greg Yerbury said...

The wallbanks although very sad but the liability was written on their deeds and conveyance documents and well documented. This liability was caused by an enclosure award and this form of liability only covers a tiny fraction of land and is particularly found in the counties of Lincolnshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Brockley was in kent and the only recorded places with enclosures that might have the liability are Ightman, East Malling Teston and Wrotham.
Yes there is liability in brockley but it will never be enforced and it if it was it was far less than £25. They might be very nice but they are are trying to sell you a policy for something that is basically never going to happen.

Sheila Sirotkin said...

My understanding of the whole scanario is that it relates to churches built before 1536 -at about the time when there was the dissolution of the monasteries -our original banks. When was St. Mary's built? Interestingly enough the monks until they were got of rid by Henry V111 built and maintained dykes in Somerset to prevent flooding.The real problem for the monarchy was that having got rid of the monasteries another source of funding for chuches had to be found.Surely some of that which was plundered by Henry V111 should now be claimed back to maintain these churches.

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