Although we blogged on this fairly recently, it seems to be a subject that is generating quite a few questions at the moment. So we’ve decided to re-visit it.
Do please remember though that we are not solicitors and your individual unique situation may require specific legal advice.
Fixtures and fittings
Let’s assume you are moving out of the house you owned and have just sold.
As a general legal principle, you cannot remove things that your contract of sale will have categorised as being “fixtures and fittings”. In other words, if the buyers saw something as part of the property’s structure when they came to visit it during their buying activities, you can’t unilaterally remove it when you move out.
There may be some exceptions to that, provided they are clearly noted in the contractual agreements and the buyers have agreed the removal in advance.
Unfortunately, just what constitutes a “fixture” is sometimes open to interpretation and it can occasionally lead to legal disputes.
Items to be cautious about
In our experience, some of the following items would normally be considered to be part of the structure of the property or a fixture and fitting:
- anything that is screwed into the fundamental structure of the house including the walls, ceilings, door frames or floorboards etc. That might include things such as kitchen units, light fittings, iron plant pot holders (though not necessarily the plant pots within them) and so on;
- major garden ornaments or furniture, where such have been cemented or screwed into place;
- external fittings to your property, such as TV aerials and satellite dishes;
- furniture that is fixed in place. An example there might be fitted wardrobes;
- shower cubicles and related plumbing plus other fixed in place bathroom accessories such as towel racks;
- built-in televisions that are fitted into units securely screwed or otherwise cemented into the fabric of the property;
In terms of furniture removals, Christchurch people are no more or less inclined to disputes than anyone else. Even so, this can occasionally be an issue when buyers move into a property and find things that were in place were the property was viewed have now suddenly disappeared.
Our advice is that it would be sensible to consult your solicitor before deciding to unscrew or otherwise remove anything which might be construed as being a fitting or fixture from a property you are selling.