'Fixtures and Fittings' is a widely used term in conveyancing but its not immediately obvious exactly what items fall into what category. Huw Worthington explains the differences
A major area for dispute between a Vendor and Purchaser is when the Purchaser moves in and finds that items they were expecting to remain with the property have been removed.
In the context of the legal position the phrases “Fixtures, Fittings and Chattels” are bandied about often without much thought as to what they mean.
The general rule as to fixtures is that whatever is attached to the ground becomes part of it. This would therefore cover property, hedges, plants and flowers whether cultivated or wild. It does not cover plants in pots.
A fitting usually refers to an item which is not a fixture but is attached to the property e.g. carpet or fitted wardrobe. A chattel is an item which is moveable so an example would be a microwave oven which is not built in.
As you can see from the general definitions there are grey areas which have resulted in Vendors being sued and in extreme cases - dare I say it…..Solicitors!
In order to avoid confusion at a later date a Purchaser should carefully check the sales brochure as all items mentioned should be left. If an item is not mentioned e.g. pipes in place for gas fire but no mention of gas fire then they are not included in the sale price.
For avoidance of doubt all Solicitors under the Home Charter Scheme produce a standard Fixtures and Fittings list which is filled in prior to signing the Contract. Such a list highlights exactly what is being taken or removed and forms part of the Contract. As a document it is invaluable because it makes the Vendor think twice about removing dimmer switches and lifting all the Wheelie bins!
Huw Worthington is a Senior Partner in Worthingtons Solicitors Northern Ireland and is head of our Private client department, Huw specialises in Residential property, Estate Planning Solutions, Wills and Probate.
This article first appeared in the Spectator newspaper. Should you have any queries in relation to this article, submit your enquiry in the form below and a member of our Property team will be happy to respond as soon as possible.