Fixtures and Fittings – What to Leave and What to Expect

fixtures and fittings

The Law

What should you leave behind, and what can you expect to find, when selling or buying a house? The issue of fixtures and fittings can be very contentious, primarily because there is no law that specifies what should be left in the house and what should be removed. Different buyers and vendors have different expectations and it is wise to clarify what will be included with the property in the early stages of the sale proceedings.

Legally the vendor is not obliged to leave any fixtures or fittings in the house, but the onus is on the vendor to clarify what will be taken. Usually conflict is avoided by the creation of an inventory which is attached to the sales contract stating what is included with the price of the house and what will be taken when the vendor moves. If an inventory is not formed, it is generally assumed that fixtures will be left but fittings will be removed, unless stated otherwise elsewhere. This means that if a fixture is removed without the buyer being forewarned the vendor could find themselves in a small claims court and have to pay the cost of replacing the contended fixture.

What is a fixture/fitting?

There are no set definitions for what constitutes a fixture or a fitting, but generally a fixture is understood to be any item that is bolted to the floor or walls, and a fitting to be any item that is free standing or hung by a nail or hook. Below is a list of items that will usually fall under each category.

Fixtures

  • Light fitments
  • Central-heating boilers and radiators
  • Built in wardrobes/cupboards (e.g. if they use a wall to form one of their sides and would thus be incomplete if they were removed)
  • Bathroom suites (sinks/baths/toilets)
  • Plugs
  • Kitchen units
  • Wall paintings

Fittings

  • Paintings or mirrors that are not bolted but hung or screwed to a wall.
  • Carpets
  • Curtains and curtain rails
  • Free-standing ovens, refrigerators and washing machines
  • Beds/sofas and other free standing items of furniture
  • Lampshades
  • Television aerials and satellite dishes

Why all the fuss?

Whilst a plug here or a towel rail there will not make much difference to the value of a house, fixtures and fittings can add up to thousands of pounds in total and will make a big difference to the monetary worth of a property. Typically, if the vendor took all furniture (fitted and free-standing) central heating fixtures, curtains, telephones, satellite dishes, dustbins and fireplaces the buyer would have lost approximately £15,000, so it is well worth taking the time to clarify what will and won’t be left in the property before the sale goes through. It is important that the buyer ensures they are getting what they think they are paying for and for the vendor to avoid any legal trouble that could occur later on in proceedings.

Inventory

When buying or selling a house it is useful to have an inventory in order to agree from the outset which fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale. Below is an example inventory form which can be tailored to each buyer or vendor’s own specifications.

Inventory of Fixtures and Fittings
Room Fixture/Fitting Included in purchase (tick or cross)
General Plug Sockets
Door Bell
Door Knocker
Shutters & Grills
Interior Door Furniture
Exterior Door Furniture
Double Glazing
Window Fitments
Kitchen Cooker
Cupboards
Fridge
Freezer
Microwave
Dishwasher
Spice Rack
Cutlery Rack
Extractor Fan
Washing Machine
Utensils
Curtain/Blinds
Built-in Appliances (specify):
Living/ Dining & Bedrooms Curtains (Including net curtains)
Curtain Rails, Fittings, Tracks & Poles
Pelmets
Blinds
Carpet
Heaters
Lamp Shades/Bulbs
Wall Fittings (shelves/mirrors etc.)
Gas/Electric Fires
Burglar Alarm
Smoke Alarms
Other (Specify):
Bathroom Carpet
Medicine Cabinet/Cabinet
Mirrors
Towel Rail
Fitted Shelves/Cupboards
Shower or Bath Unit
Toilet Fittings
Heater
Curtain/Blind
Shaver Fitting
Soap & Toothbrush Holders
Shower Fittings & Curtain
Outside Shed
Greenhouse
Trees, Plants, Flowers
Lights
Garden Equipment & Furniture (Specify)
Garden Ornaments
Water Butts
Dustbins
Satellite Dish/TV Aerial
Additional Notes
I hereby certify that the items checked and noted on this agreement are included in the sale price of the property.
SIGNED: _________________________ House Seller

Negotiation Techniques

Getting the most for the price of a house often comes down to good negotiation techniques.

  • Stay calm and polite when attempting to negotiate the fixtures and fittings you would like to be left – a sale often falls through because of heated conflict over the finer details of a property.
  • Ensure both parties are clear which items are fixtures and which are fittings to avoid confusion later on.
  • Do all negotiating face to face – that way both parties can gauge responses more accurately and working out what will be left after the move will be easier.
  • Be friendly – the other party is much more likely to accommodate your wishes if they like you.
  • Think about which fixtures and fittings you actually need – there is no point arguing to keep a sink if you’re just going to get rid of it later on. Remember, disposing of unwanted items can be very costly.
  • Don’t make unreasonable demands; you’re more likely to strain relations and end up with a worse deal.
  • As soon as any agreements are made write it down so there can be no contentions further down the line.

4 comments on “Fixtures and Fittings – What to Leave and What to Expect

  1. Karen Barratt on

    My friend has just bought a house. The vendor ticked the box to say she was leaving all the 4-month old carpets. She then took the two very large bedroom carpets. It turns out she had told her solicitors she had changed her mind about these carpets but they did not pass the message on. My friend had a copy of the fixtures &fittings list and even had a text from the vendor saying there had been an error in communication. My friend has had to unexpectedly buy and fit new carpets. What is her legal position?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Karen,

      Sorry this has happened to your friend! I have done a little research and found this quote in a Telegraph article;

      Before an exchange of contracts, a seller’s solicitor will ask them to fill in a “Fittings and Contents” form, which states which items are included in the sale, which are to be removed from the property, and which items are to be charged for separately.
      This form should be provided to the buyer before the contracts are exchanged, and should be attached to the parts of the contract signed by the seller and the buyer immediately before exchange.
      So who is at fault?
      If our readers’ solicitor failed to show them such information, “they have strong grounds for complaint because it is a breach of the Law Society’s conveyancing protocol, which is designed to standardise the process of transferring property”, said Ms Blackburn. This applies to all legal advisers who are registered with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme
      .”

      Full article can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/money-saving-tips/11691738/Can-seller-take-the-cooker-fridge-and-curtains-after-weve-exchanged.html

      Sounds like your friend could opt to seek legal advice on how to proceed further. However she should be mindful that the cost of doing so (in legal fees etc) may end up being more than she’d spend on 2 carpets

      Best of luck to her!

      Reply
  2. Catherine Johnson on

    I have had my offer accepted for a property but some items are being left out. We both signed identical contracts but I didn’t read them and so didn’t know what would be included in the sale. I assumed that the flagstones paved in the garden (as well as some left over on the side) would be included as well as a shed in the garden. However, when I went back for another visit both these items were removed. I was told by the sellers that the shed would remain but we hadn’t discussed the flagstones. What is my legal position? Can I claim these items?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Catherine,

      You would need to speak with your solicitor on this matter and have a read through the contract, they may have said one thing, but if it wasn’t in the contract you both signed, it’s hard to go back on that.

      It’s odd that they’d take the flagstone paving though! I can’t find anything that suggests whether they are considered fixtures or fittings to ascertain your position. Apologies we can’t be of further assistance!

      Reply

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