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Repeal archaic law for church chancel repair obligation

Comment 1st July 2010

There is an ancient law where a church can force people living in the parish to pay for the cost of church repairs. There have been a few cases in recent years where people have had large bills. The funds are raised from all residents, regardless of ability to pay and regardless of whether they have any connection with the church.

Why does this matter?

The law is unfair in that most people have no interest in the church and should not be obliged to pay for its upkeep. Furthermore, only Church of England churches have this power. All other denominations and faiths have to fund themselves which is discriminatory.

It is worsened by the fact that solicitors now include a chancel search in the house buying process, and the cost is borne by the seller. The search finds that almost every home is within the boundary of a historic parish which in theory would have the power to raise funds in this way. The seller is then advised to insure against the potential liability, incurring an additional cost.

The whole thing is a shambles. The law itself is an anachronism and it is being abused by solicitors into a money-making scheme. Having recently abolished HIPs in the interest of making the house sale process better, this archaic and unfair law should also be abolished.

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