Q. I am buying an apartment in canary wharf and my solicitor has just written to me concerning a Chancel check report that she has just received back and is recommending some kind of insurance be put in place by the vendor to cover this? What is a Chancel, I have never heard of this before?

A. Chancel repair liability is a legal leftover from the Middle Ages that enables some parishes to call upon owners of properties located on former church land to fund repairs to their church buildings. Your solicitor has obviously seen on the report that this known right is affecting the property. Your Lawyer is right, the liability for this lies with the property and as such it is the vendor’s responsibility to pass on good title to their buyer. Chancel insurance will cover you against any potential claims in the future. As there is clearly a problem with chancel affecting the property a clear title would not be passed unless the insurance is taken out. This kind of insurance is available for around £150.00 and I am sure your vendor’s solicitor will encourage their client to pay for this in order to continue with the smooth sale of the property. This type of insurance can usually be arranged over the telephone therefore once an agreement can be made to pay for this the purchase can proceed in the usual fashion. Thankfully, the Government have intervened and a Transitional Provisions Order was made which came into effect on the 13th October 2003. This order effectively means that ALL chancel repair obligations will cease on the 13th October 2013 unless the chancel of any Church has noted their interest in any particular property or land with the land registry before this date.

Unfortunately this legislation means that the likely hood of a claim and liability being noted with the inland revenue as Churches will look to either protect their interests or ‘cash’ in now on any liabilities, hence the reason for your solicitors advice on recommending the insurance being put in place to protect against such a claim.