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10/25/12

Fixture or Chattel?


Q - I'm planning on purchasing a house that has a built-in vacuum and a storage shed.  Are these two items fixtures that stay with the house or do the owners have a right to remove them? 

A - Determining whether an item is a fixture or a chattel can be subject to interpretation.  Here are some guidelines that may be helpful.

Built-in vacuums have often been a thorny issue since they are subject to different interpretations.  The canister is often seen as a fixture so tends to be left.  However, when a built-in vacuum is initially purchased, the accessories are often sold separately.  So sellers see the accessories as not being a part of the built-in vaccum system that should be left.  This is probably why there is confusion.

The best solution to this problem is for the buyer's agent to specifically write into the purchasing contract 'built-in vacuum with accessories' to be included.  This should eliminate the problem.

As for the storage shed, that depends on whether or not it is moveable.  If the storage shed was a purchase from a building supply store and simply deposited on the property, it can be argued that it is not a fixture and can easily be moved.  However, if the storage shed was built on the property or in some way anchored so that it cannot be moved, it qualifies as a fixture.

Again, if you, as buyer, want the storage shed, then this item should be written into the contract.  The seller may or may not part with it depending on the negotiations regarding price and other terms deemed important.

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