SELLER TIP#4: AVOID FIXTURES AND FITTINGS BECOMING A BONE OF CONTENTION

PUBLISHED 11 AUG 2016   

Since the inception of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) it has become more important for home sellers and their agents to be very specific, clear and honest about what they are selling.

It is important to be able to distinguish between the terms ‘fixtures’ and ‘fittings’. Fixtures form part of the property and may not be removed when you move. They are therefore sold with the property. By definition, a fixture is moveable “personal” property that by means of bolts, nails, screws, cement, glue or other method of attachment has been converted to immovable property.

Blinds are also usually permanently attached and could quite reasonably be assumed by a homebuyer to be included in the sale, as could ceiling fans, light fittings, built-in water features, fireplaces, ovens, bookcases and bars, swimming pool and borehole pumps, TV aerials, satellite dishes and plants or trees that are growing in the ground. 

Furthermore, disputes often arise over items that are themselves not fixed in place but without which certain fixtures do not work, such as garage door remotes, pool cleaners, the batteries for a solar power system and recently, the LPG cylinders for a gas stove and fireplace and even sometimes the bar and kitchen chairs that form a unit with the bar or kitchen counter. 

Fittings are however regarded as items that do not form part of the property and that you can take with you when you move. It is not always clear in which category a certain item falls and purchasers and sellers often disagree on this issue.

There are a few broad legal principles for determining whether a particular item is a fixture or a fitting. These legal principles cannot cater for each and every unique situation and it is therefore advisable to distinguish between the two in the deed of sale.

We recommend that you insert an extensive list in the deed of sale or add an addendum to the purchase agreement in which you specify the list of fittings that you want to remove and that are not part of the sale, as well as items that you regard as fixtures.