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Public Guide 25 – Registrations and notices about mines and minerals, chancel repairs and manorial rights

Updated: December 2013

Update

This edition of the guide replaces the October 2013 edition. It has been generally updated to be relevant to the position after 13 October 2013.

What this guide covers

This guide is for members of the public concerned about or affected by third parties seeking to protect their interests through registration of their mineral or other interests, or chancel repair liability. You may have received a notice from Land Registry or read reports in the media about landowners or church parishes seeking to protect their interests. 

1 Introduction 

If you own a piece of land or a property which is  registered with Land Registry, you can see what you own and the register is fairly informative as to what matters or obligations affect it. However, before the Land Registration Act which was introduced in 2002, there were some matters that could affect (bind) your property, but were very difficult to find out about as they were not visible on the register. We refer to these matters as ‘overriding interests’ and this includes manorial rights and chancel repairs.

Although these are often described as ‘relics from past times’, owners of these rights or interests often have a duty or responsibility to protect them. The 2002 Act says some of these rights might be lost on a future sale if they were not already protected in the register.

Whether or not you own the mines and minerals under your property or are subject to these liabilities depends on the history of the land in question. For example, it was very common for large landowners to retain ownership of the mines and minerals when they sold the land. Examination of the old deeds which can sometimes be hundreds of years old, may determine the position.

1.1 Mines and minerals

In many parts of England and Wales it is fairly common that one person will own the surface of the land but someone else will own the land below the surface. This land below the surface is usually called ‘mines and minerals’. There are varying types of rights and ownership relating to mines and minerals. These can range from owning the mines and minerals outright and being able to take them away, whether or not the owner of the surface agrees, to having some rights to them that can be exercised with the agreement of the surface owner. Where someone owns the land comprising the mines and minerals below your property they will continue to own it indefinitely.  They can apply to register it if they wish but they do not have to and this will not affect their ownership. 

1.2 Chancel repairs

A chancel repair liability is the requirement for an owner of land to pay for the repair of the chancel (the part of the church containing the altar and the choir) of an Anglican parish church. This mainly stems from the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. 

Where previously the local rector owned land in the parish, he was responsible for repairing the chancel of the church out of the money the land produced. Monasteries often acquired this land together with the responsibility for paying for the repair of the chancel. When Henry Vlll sold the monasteries’ land, the liability to pay for the repair of the chancel remained with the land sold.

Various diocesan board websites provide a history of chancel repair liabilities. If you have received a Land Registry notice about chancel repairs, it will be because a parochial church council (PCC) in England, or the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, claims to have the right to collect this money to pay for the repair of the chancel of the church and has applied for the registration of a notice to that effect on your registered title.

1.3 Manorial rights

These are rights that were retained by the lord of the manor when the land became freehold. These can include rights relating to mines and minerals. Other examples are rights to hunt, shoot or fish. 

2 The change in the law 

The Land Registration Act of 2002 says that, in certain circumstances, the person who owns certain overriding interests (such as manorial rights and chancel repair) could potentially lose them unless they were protected through registration at Land Registry before the property was subsequently sold without being made subject to them.

Some landowners are responding to this change in the law by seeking to register all their valuable interests in land that can be protected. Registration of these interests sometimes requires Land Registry to write to (serve notice on) the owners of titles that are subject to these interests in specific locations (manors).

The change in the law was introduced to make the register and land ownership more transparent, so that anyone buying a piece of land or property would see what they owned and have more information about what matters they were subject to.

2.1 What happens now?

Manorial rights and chancel repair liability lost their overriding status if they were not protected before 13 October 2013. This means a new owner who buys the land or property after 12 October 2013 may potentially buy it free of these interests if they weren’t protected prior to the sale.

Until the property is sold any rights that exist continue indefinitely and an application can still be made to protect them.

Mines and minerals can still be registered in their own right if an applicant has sufficient evidence to support a separate title to those mines and minerals being granted. A future sale of the surface land will make no difference. 

3 The role of Land Registry 

Land Registry is a government department responsible for registering the ownership of land and property in England and Wales and recording rights and interests that affect it. We have a statutory duty to respond to requests for registration of these interests.

We examine the documents that accompany every application and decide how to proceed. A key step in the registration process is to send a notice (an official letter) to let you know that a third party is seeking to register an interest that affects your land or property or has entered a claim that they have such an interest.

The notice gives those who own the affected land or property an opportunity to consider the issue and decide if or how they would wish to respond.

Our independent role means we cannot offer legal advice or provide reassurances about what the notice means to any particular individual. We aim to be as helpful as possible by simplifying our notices as far as we can, and providing material to explain some of the common questions that have arisen, while still recognising that these can be quite complex matters of law. 

4 Who could be affected by this? 

Whether your property is affected depends on the history of the land or the area you live in. These rights and interests have probably always existed, whether you were aware of them or not. In many instances the register already refers to manorial rights or chancel repair liability or says that the mines and minerals are not in the title. These are not new rights or interests being sought, the third party is normally simply looking to protect an interest they already hold.

One of the key benefits of having a registered title is that you will be informed if anyone seeks to register an interest that affects your land or property. If your land or property is not registered we are not able to provide you with information about what interests affect your property. 

5 Land Registry notices 

We appreciate that it can cause concern and upset when people receive a notice from Land Registry advising them that a third party is looking to protect an interest that affects their land or property. If you receive a Land Registry notice, this is your opportunity to consider the issue.

The notices are our way of letting you know there is a third party who is seeking to register an interest that affects your land or property. They are a key benefit of having your land or property registered at Land Registry.

The notice will tell you who has made an application, what they are seeking to register and how to get more information if it is required. Some of our notices provide a period of time during which you can object to the registration. 

6 Objecting in response to a notice providing a period of time to object 

You can object to the registration if you believe you have grounds to do so. Any groundless objections will be dismissed. An example of a valid objection would be if you could prove that the right or interest no longer existed, or had been transferred to you or someone else and so does not belong to the applicant. An example of a groundless objection would be if you simply objected because you did not want an entry to be made.

All objections are considered in the first instance by Land Registry lawyers. If your objection is not upheld, you will receive a letter explaining why. If you lodge a valid objection, and you and the applicant cannot subsequently resolve the dispute, it may have to be resolved judicially by a tribunal or by going to court. We have also produced Public Guide 26 – A customer guide to disputed applications. You can view or download copies of this public guide from our website at www.landregistry.gov.uk or obtain a copy from us. 

7 General information 

This guide is aimed at those receiving a notice as a result of a third party seeking to register an interest that affects their land or property.

Legal guidance for solicitors and conveyancers can be found in:

If you have other questions about what we do, our staff should be able to help. If you want more information about the possible legal or business effects of the registration of these rights, or a similar matter, you should consider getting legal advice. Our staff will try to help as much as possible, but please remember that we cannot give legal advice.

More information about chancel repairs is available from the Charity Commission and certain diocesan board websites. Some chancel repair liabilities records are held by The National Archives. A search facility is available for the records they hold - see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk for more information.

8 Frequently asked questions

8.1 Does a property need to be near a church to be liable to pay for chancel repairs?

No, properties that are liable can be located anywhere within a medieval historic parish boundary.

8.2 How many parishes are affected by chancel repair liability?

We think it could be about 5,300 parishes in England and Wales.

8.3 Why did Land Registry change the law?

This particular part of the Land Registration Act 2002 was passed by Parliament in order to bring greater transparency into land ownership.

8.4 Are you encouraging third parties to protect these historic interests?

The Act was passed to help make clear who owns what with regard to land and property. This would be achieved by ensuring each property’s register showed some of the more unusual things it was subject to but were difficult for an owner to find out about. The interest probably always affected the property whether or not the owner knew about it. The benefit of the Act will be seen in greater transparency for all.

Third parties have had to decide how to proceed for themselves. Although these rights and interests are often referred to as ‘relics of past times’ they are often valuable interests that have existed for many hundreds of years. Often those who own them have a duty to protect the value of their assets. Land Registry is the statutory body charged with registering them if a third party wishes to protect their interest. Just as your property is registered in your name to protect your title, the owner of the interest is seeking to do the same.

8.5 My property is registered – why did I not know about this?

There are many reasons why you may not have been aware of it. When we register land and property for the first time we are not required to go back hundreds of years for evidence. The Act relates to rights that did not previously have to appear on the register although in some instances an entry does appear. None of these reasons prevent us from registering the applicant’s title or noting their interest as you are subject to the interest whether or not you were aware of its existence.

8.6 Why have I received a notice saying that the interest is being entered on my title?

You have received a notice because someone who has the benefit of one of the interests has applied for the registration and your registered title is affected.

8.7 I’m finding the Land Registry notice quite complicated

The notice that you receive from Land Registry is our way of letting you know there is a third party who is seeking to register an interest that affects your registered title. Being notified in this way is a key benefit of having your title registered at Land Registry.

We have tried to make sure our notices are as easy to understand as possible, without simplifying them so much they could become misleading. The notice gives full details of the third party making the application, as well as Land Registry details, so you can ask for further information if you require it.

8.8 Why hasn’t my neighbour received a notice?

We usually only serve notice on owners of property that is registered where the register does not already contain the relevant entry. Your neighbour may have the entry on their register, may not be affected by this particular registration or their property may not be registered at Land Registry.

8.9 How can I raise an objection?

If you receive a notice telling you that your property is affected by an interest and we intend to make an entry relating to it on your register, we give you the opportunity to object to the registration within the specified period shown on the notice. If for good reason you are unable to do so within the time limit, you can apply for more time in which to object (provided the application has not already been completed by that point).

In order to raise an objection you must have good grounds for doing so, for example by demonstrating why the applicant is not entitled to the interest.

8.10 Will my objection be successful?

Objections are sent directly to one of our lawyers for consideration. If your objection is unsuccessful our response will explain why.

8.11 What is an information notice?

We may not always issue an objection notice. In some circumstances we only send an information notice once the application has been completed and the entry protecting the interest has been made on the register telling you that we have made the entry.

8.12 How can I remove an entry from the register?

If you believe the entry should not be on your title, you can apply to have the entry removed from the register using form UN4. Information on how to make this kind of application can be found in Practice Guide 19 – Notices, restrictions and the protection of third party interests in the register which can be downloaded from our website www.landregistry.gov.uk

8.13 If I apply to register my land for the first time now will you enter any manorial rights or liability to repair the chancel on my title?

If your deeds indicate that these rights affect your property we are required to enter them on your title. These rights are not affected by the change in the law. In addition if someone who has the benefit of these rights has protected them prior to 13 October 2013 it will be necessary to enter them on your title if they affect your property.

8.14 Is there going to be ‘fracking’ below my property?

We have no information about any future ‘fracking’. Any oil and gas belongs to the Crown (who can grant licences to extract them), not to the owners of the land. Planning consent is required. In addition rights have to be acquired over or through the affected land. The letters sent by Land Registry are to inform property owners of a claim to a right that if it affects will have done so for a very long time. They are in response to the change in the law requiring the owners of the rights to protect them if they want to retain their ownership and are not connected to the 'fracking debate'.

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