Fixture or chattel - why should I care?

When buying or selling property, fixtures are generally included automatically, chattels are not. This can cause difficulty as it is not always clear whether something is a fixture or a chattel. Fixtures are usually fixed to, and form part of the land, whereas chattels are usually movable. To further refine the test, you will need to examine on a case-by-case basis why and to what extent the item is fixed to the land. It’s not always easy – these matters often end in dispute.

A dishwasher is arguably a fixture where it is plumbed and wired directly to the house and part of the cabinetry. It’s arguably a chattel if it rests on its own weight, has easily detached plumbing and a regular power plug.

To avoid confusion, write it down. If something should be included (or specifically excluded) record it in the agreement. If in doubt, seek advice!

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