Sunday, 13 October 2013

If you were disturbed this morning by a solemn peal of bells from your local church, then your local vicar was probably mourning not the passing of some local churchgoing worthy, but the expiration of the validity of the Land Registration Act 2002 (Transitional Provisions) (No 2) Order 2003

From and after 13 October 2013, anyone purchasing registered land where there is no entry protecting the obligation to contribute towards the maintenance of a chancel of a church, will take free of any such obligation.

This sounds almost as exciting as the Latvian football results. 

But for the last 10 years, purchasers of property have been subjected to the possibility that their property might carry this bizarre and (up until the mid 1990s) almost forgotten encumbrance, and have consequently been advised to pay for searches and insurance to cover this risk.  Simple mathematics will reveal that at around £20 per transaction on average, and with around half a million property sales a year, around £100 million has been spent by buyers of land in the last decade.  This is considerably less than the Church of England has received from chancel payments, even from bodies, such as the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges, whose liability is known to them.

There is no evidence of anyone having received a bill without there being some note on their title prior to 2003, and I would be interested to know if any entries have been registered against people who were not aware of their liability.

It is my view that this is a complete disgrace.

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