Nicola Reid, partner, residential property for Ledingham Chalmers, talks fixtures and fittings when buying or selling a property.
When it comes to selling or buying a property, deciding which items are to be included in the price is something to which a degree of consideration should be given by both buyer and seller.
Items that are integrated or which form part of the fabric of the building in any way, are not to be removed by a seller and therefore form part of the property being paid for. Examples being such items as satellite dishes, fitted furniture and integrated white goods.
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for television sets to be wall mounted. If the intention on the part of a seller is not to have these included in the price, then this should be clearly set out in writing in the missives. Where such wall-mounted television sets are to be removed, a seller should also consider and make clear whether or not the bracket affixing the television to the wall is to remain in situ or be removed. If the latter, it is generally accepted that a seller will make good all or any damage caused by its removal.
Moveable items are, by their very definition, items that can be easily removed from a property and not fixed to the fabric of the property. The most popular items here being curtains and blinds and would also include any free-standing white goods or appliances such as fridges, freezers, or ovens. The majority of sellers will have stated specifically within the sales schedule such moveable items that are to be removed or those that are to remain within the property. Buyers should, however, take care to note that if a schedule indicates that there is plumbing in place for a dishwasher or washing machine, this does not imply the existence and inclusion of the appliance, merely that the appropriate plumbing/drainage is in place to accommodate them.
Most buyers are accommodating if they are given clear notice of items to be removed from the outset – in the case of any light fittings not included, a buyer would simply expect that the seller replace those removed with a standard flex and bulb and have this narrated within the contract.
There are always situations where a seller will take the meaning of moveable items to the extreme. It has been known for sellers to remove all light bulbs from the property and on occasion, the remainder of the toilet roll from their holders.
Perhaps an instance of a moveable item being removed by a seller in error largely through misunderstanding is that of the wheelie bin. Individuals should note that a wheelie bin, as provided by the local authority, must remain with the property and should not be removed. The exception to this being where a seller has purchased an additional bin which they would be entitled to remove as their own personal property.
A seller is entitled to remove all plants and/or flowers that are in potted containers within the garden. If a seller wishes to dig up any particular plant from the garden or take a sizeable cutting, then this should be clearly intimated in writing to the buyers agent.
Paramount to ensuring that no misunderstandings arise between a buyer and seller is that of communication. If a buyer wishes something to be specifically included in the price or a seller to specifically remove any item so as not form part of the sale, they should ensure that this is clearly communicated to their respective solicitors so that it can be incorporated into the missives. This ensures that each party is aware at the outset what is and is not forming part of the sale/purchase and generally ensures that there are no nasty surprises or disappointments at a later stage.