Fixtures and Fittings or Goods and Chattels – what stays and what goes when you buy a property?

You’ve just made an offer on your next investment property and it’s been accepted. 

That’s great news, but what actually comes with the property when you settle? living-room-1517166_1920

Is it everything that you saw when you inspected the property?

Clearly not – some of the items in the property belonged to the vendor.

You didn’t really expect to get that big plasma TV thrown in, did you?

But what about the dishwasher?

Does it stay or can the seller take it with him?

This is where arguments start – when either the buyer or seller assumes certain items stay or go.

How do you decide what stays and what goes?

There is a general legal principle that when you buy a property you get transfer of a title and that gives you a right to the land and anything affixed to it.

Obviously, this includes a dwelling and this extends to anything that is affixed to the dwelling.

I remember one solicitor explaining it to me by saying: “Imagine you took the house and tipped it upside down. Then whatever falls out, doesn’t stay with the house when you take possession”.

Whilst simple in form, you get the idea.

In legal terms, there are generally two classes of items in a property: goods or chattels and fixtures or fittings.

Fixtures (the bit that doesn’t fall out when you tip it upside down) are part of the property and are sold with the property.

On the other hand, goods are movable items that the vendor can take with them at settlement.

But sometimes things aren’t clear

The vendor bought a new dishwasher only a few months ago – it looks built-in, but there really aren’t any screws holding it in place.

Does it stay or does it go?

That’s why when you buy (or sell) a property it’s important to complete the section of the contract of sale concerning goods.

This is where you list items that as either staying or going.agent house

Often this section will say the sale includes “all fixed floor covering, light fittings and window furnishing, excluding the garden shed in the back yard”.

If there is any doubt about an item ask the selling agent and ensure it is mentioned in the contract, as it is different expectations between the buyer and seller that cause disputes.

I’ve used the example of a dishwasher a few times because this is one of the common areas of dispute.

In general, if the dishwasher is free standing it is good, but if it’s mounted under a bench it’s a fixture and stays.

Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunities the current property markets are offering.

Metrople Team

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'Fixtures and Fittings or Goods and Chattels – what stays and what goes when you buy a property?' have 11 comments


    December 27, 2020 elly

    If a hosepipe is bolted to the wall in a “coil”, does that stay or go?


      Michael Yardney

      December 27, 2020 Michael Yardney

      A hose pipe would not have to stay, but most people wouldn’t bother taking it



    May 1, 2020 John

    Hello, I wanted to know if the house has a fuel tank that is fixed to a cement platform with nuts, this is kept by the seller or the buyer, what happens to the furniture that is suspended in the air and attached to the wall with nuts, and the last question about exterior lights strung on the wall? It is understood that if you put the house down, everything that does not fall stays, but I do not understand much about the first 2 elements that I described, thank you very much



    December 4, 2019 Julie

    What happens if the property ad says “The area is set up with a flat-screen TV and a fire pit.”



    October 28, 2019 Andrew

    If the buyer offers to pay an extra $1000 for the plasma TV to be included, is stamp duty payable on the additional amount?



    March 16, 2019 Skye

    What about theatre room equipment such as the screen and projector?


      Michael Yardney

      March 16, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Skye – I was once told an easy way to work out what stays is in you tipped the property upside down – anything that doesn’t fall out is what’s meant to stay – so if the equipment is fixed to the wall it should stay



    February 24, 2016 Ann

    We are selling our home. When our contract to sell was signed, there was no mention of chattel, fixtures & fittings. Can I take the trees I have planted in pots from my garden to my new home?



    May 18, 2015 Hamish

    I had to buy another clothes drier once as a result of a dispute over whether it stayed or went. In the end the buyer won, it stayed and we bought a new drier (still going – F&P).



      June 23, 2016 Michael

      gooday that is understandable that the dryer stays if it was the bolt to wall type. however if it a free standing unit, then you can take it with you. HTH, regards.


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