Despite the fact that chancel repair liability stems from the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII, a deadline now looms for the registration of this liability by parochial church councils for it to continue to bind property.

In brief, it is a landowner's liability to maintain the chancel (the altar and choir stalls) of their local, mediaeval, Anglican church.

The liability is currently an 'overriding interest' which means it does not have to be registered to bind property. It is often not possible to ascertain the liability so landowners frequently insure against the risk. From 13 October 2013, a notice must have been registered at the Land Registry by Parochial Church Councils for the liability to be enforceable against new purchasers.

In relation to land acquired before 13 October 2013:

  • until sold, it will potentially continue to be affected; and
  • if a notice is registered before that date, it will permanently be bound.

It now remains to be seen whether there will be a spate of registrations, but recent Charity Commission guidance states that the liability need not be enforced in every case and the Heritage Lottery Fund has announced it will take over responsibility for the grants repair scheme for places of worship.