An archaic law dating back to Henry VIII allow the church to demand homeowners pay for repairs of their local church if their home is built on land that at some distant time belonged to the church.

This law was recently enforced (2008) on a couple (the Wallbanks) who had to pay the church 200k for repairs of St John the Baptist church near Stratford upon Avon.  They challenged this in many courts at various levels, spending thousands on legal bills, but ultimately could not overturn the decision.

Clearly this archaic law is still dangerous and enforcable.  Incredibly the church does not even have to spread the charge evenly across homeowners on the affected land.

This problem clearly infringes the moral rights of thousands of people in the UK.  Solicitors often spot this liability during the purchase/conveyancing process.  They have to pay for a "search" to check for it – guess who runs the search, the church – a nice earner – and what's more the search results are non-binding "you probably will/won't have to pay…".   The hapless homeowner is then forced to take out around 100 of insurance just incase the church sues them at some point due to this Chancel Liability.

I propose this law be scrapped.

Why is this idea important?

This law is archaic and an afront to moral/decent values.  It is not right or the church to fine people in this way, they have no hold on the land – the homeowner often owns it freehold/outright, and many people living on it have nothing to do with the church and its belief system.  It is only a matter of time before the church enforces this morally corrupt law on some Islamic couple and then we will really see the sparks fly…

11 Replies to “Abolish Chancel Tax (Steeple Tax) Liability”

  1. Good Idea.

    I can’t believe that the goverment refused to follow the Law Commission’s recommendation to abolish the liability in 1985

  2. Just buying a new house. The thought of taking out insurance for this is repugnant.

  3. Silly idea. There they are all tehse wealthy couples admiring the view of the church out of their window and what it does for their community (and property prices!) but the thought of taking out £100 indemnity insurance is too much for them when they buy the house, even though it was built on church land and clearly had a restrictive covenant on. Imagine the fuss if it all fell down! Or am I wrong?

  4. This ancient law is a joke in 2013 Britain. We are just about to buy a house which this applies to and our solicitor is arranging appropriate insurane. We are both agnostic. Why the hell should we potentially have to pay money to repair a church that we never go to dont want and wouldnt care if it burnt to the ground….What happens if you are a Muslim or Jewish or a Hundu or Sikh? Are you still expected to pay towards the upkeep of a Christian place of worship? I am going to spend the rest of my days fighting this stupidity and brining it to an end. Spread the words and stuff the church!

  5. An archaic law that has NO place in the 21st century. That home owners are obliged to take out insurance to protect themselves from this onerous tax must rank as “a scam of immense proportions” and perpetuated by successive governments who are completely out of touch with public sentiments on this issue.

  6. We have friends who have a clause in their Title Deeds re Chancel Repair Liability. They bought in the early 1990s when the clause was dismissed by their solicitors as being archaic and irrelevant. Now they can’t get insurance for any amount, never mind £100, and they can’t sell. Their lives have been blighted for over 10 years now and if the church ever does decide to make a substantial claim on them the only real asset they have is their home which of course is now worthless.
    The decision by the Lords to allow The Chancel Repair Act to be resurrected is inhumane and makes the UK look like a backward, medieval country!

  7. Yes it does seem to be archaic but if it is abolished it will surely take with it all then other restrictive covenants. Thus the family who purchased a house with a covenanted open view may find houses built right up to their boundary.

    Let us no forger that King Henry V111 h stole much church property and land in the first place.

    Perhaps the way forward is for the law to be abolished and the government to compensate the churches or whoever who loose out and recover some of the costs from those who purchased their property cheaper because of the tax whose property will now soar in value.

  8. Wouldn’t it be easier to not buy property with such restrictive covenants? This might help the government think over the archaic law.

  9. That is very good idea. We need to prepare an online petition, sign and send it to the parliament.

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