MP gives warning on repair liability

10 August 2012

PCC asset? St Eadburgha's, in Broadway, Worcestershire, where questions have been raised over chancel-repair liability (CREDIT: SAFFRON BLAZE)

PCC asset? St Eadburgha's, in Broadway, Worcestershire, where questions have been raised over chancel-repair liability (CREDIT: SAFFRON BLAZE)

CHANCEL-Repair liability (CRL) is an issue "on the verge of explosion", a junior government minister, Peter Luff, has said. Mr Luff, the MP for Mid Worcestershire, is helping the PCC of Broadway with Wickhamford to find a way to avoid registering CRL against 30 households in its parish ( News, 3 August).

"My strong sense is that this issue is on the verge of explosion," he said. He warned that, with hundreds of parishes about to inform householders about potential CRL registration, "an issue that the Church thinks is manageable is about to become rather more difficult for them."

He said that parishes could apply to the Charity Commission for dispensation from registering CRL against householders, because "the upset caused would run contrary to the objectives of the charity." CRL would then cease once the property was next sold, but would continue to apply to existing home-owners.

Mr Luff, who is acting in his capacity as a constituency MP rather than as a government minister, wants the law changed so that where the Charity Commission has given such advice, existing home-owners would also be exempt from the liability. But, he said, the Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly believed that the issue was "inconsequential and unimportant", and affected mostly institutional landowners.

"If he is right, and this affects only ten or 20 parishes, that makes life a lot more difficult; but if it is going to be 50 or 100 parishes, or more, then there is a much stronger case for taking action."

He wants parishes that have to consider registering CRL against householders to contact him, and their own MP, so that they can build a case for a change in the law; and also to "provide help, guidance and support to one another".

Mr Luff can be contacted by email at peter.luff.mp@parliament.uk.

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