Nita Patel, head of the property team at Martin Kaye Solicitors in Telford, has warned that the Land Registry will be sending out warnings to the owners of many houses sited near historic churches and the owners of those houses could be in for a real shock. She said that the rules came about because of the way the land was distributed after the dissolution of the monasteries, an event that took place between 1536 and 1541.
“It means the owners of such properties have a legal obligation to contribute to church repairs, even if they have never attended a service,” said Nita. This is because, across 5,000 parishes in England, people are subject to the rules known as Chancel Repair Liabilities, as they live in properties built on land formerly owned by the monasteries.
A high profile court case happened in 2003 after a parish church billed a couple for almost £100,000 in repairs, a huge amount of money, leading to a court case which went on for years leading to considerable additional court costs. This led to the last Government trying to tidy up the difficult situation.
“As a result, parishes were ordered to go back through land records dating back centuries to clarify exactly who may be liable for costs, and to register all the properties concerned before October 13, 2013”, says Nita. “The ten-year deadline is fast approaching, and local parishes will find they could be legally responsible if they don’t complete the registration process in time.”
If your property is affected, there is no need to panic, you just need to make sure that you have insurance that covers you for these obligations. Once everyone knows whether or not they are liable, it is important that they get the correct insurance. “This law could have a dramatic effect on many properties across Shropshire and it’s vital that homeowners find out whether they are affected”, warns Nita. “Many homeowners take out insurance against their liabilities, but many more are completely unaware of their legal obligations as the law is very rarely enforced. But no-one wants to be faced with an unexpected bill that could run into thousands of pounds, and if homeowners know in advance they can take steps to protect themselves with the right insurance cover.”
To read more about Martin Kaye’s property services and to contact their property team, go to http://www.martinkaye.co.uk/