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What are Chattels & Fixtures in Real Estate?

It is important for sellers and buyers to be clear about what will stay and what can be taken. It is common for people to include/exclude items in their home when selling. They can be items such as appliances, blinds, drapes, and lighting fixtures. However, there are certain objects that may not be as obvious.  Items such as hot-tubs, children’s play sets, garden decorations, and wall-mounted televisions.

SEE MY PREVIOUS POST: When Sellers take everything.

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READ : The Case of the Missing Vacuum cleaner

What Are Chattles?

A chattel is a moveable possession and personal property that can be removed without injury to the property. Chattels are normally deemed to be excluded from the purchase price.  They can be included if they are specifically noted in the agreement of purchase and sale.

If it is not attached at all, or only attached by, for example, a plug or a hook on a wall, then it is a chattel.  Examples of this can be a refrigerator, oven, washer and dryer, furniture or even farm equipment.

What Are Fixtures?

A wise man once said to me, “If it takes a tool, that’s the rule.” In other words, if the item is so attached to the home or the property that it requires a tool to remove it, then it is presumed to be a fixture. Examples of fixtures can be a built in dishwasher, garden plants, light fixtures and TV wall mounts.

In its simplest terms, the first step in deciding whether an article is a fixture is to find out whether it is attached to the real property. If it is attached, even slightly, it is presumed to be a fixture. If it is only slightly attached does its intended use defeat this presumption? Its intended use is to be discovered by examining the extent and the purpose of the attachment.

Why Does It Matter?

It is particularly important for sellers and buyers to specify anything of significant value in the agreement of purchase and sale. If there is any question as to whether something will be a fixture or chattel, it is best to deal with it ahead of time.

When selling a property, it’s important to decide what you would like to take with you, such as the fridge, stove or washer and dryer. If items such as these are not listed in the contract of purchase, it could lead to misunderstandings with a potential buyer.

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