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.

55 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
  3. Ian on

    We’re just about to sell a property that has fitted cupboards in the hallway. I’d like to take the doors of the cupboards for a project at our new property but am unsure if the doors officially/legally form part of the fitted unit.
    Are they classed as an ‘internal door fitting’ (I assume this is more of a door to a room) or do they form part of the cupboard? Can you offer any clarification?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Ian

      If you intend to take the doors, this would need to be accepted in writing from the buyers prior to exchange of contracts

      Good luck with your project!

      Reply
  4. teresa ireland on

    I am due to move house soon and on my contents fixtures/fitting form, I ticked that I was leaving the Electric fires & surrounds that I have. One is hard wired and the other is plugged into the socket. Can I remove and replace the plugged in fire & surround and leave in a tidy state

    Reply
  5. Chen Li on

    hi, I have recently bought a house with a tenant staying on. My understanding with the vendor is that she has left everything in the house. The Fittings & Content form provided by my solicitor was quite high level. When I asked the solicitor to contact the vendor, seller’s solicitor replied that ‘all white goods will remain in the property, My client does not intend to take anything with her’. is this legally strong enough to assume that everything in the house belong to me, how do I protect myself better with tenant against missing fixtures/fittings/furnitures in the future when tenant moves out? thanks

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi There,

      We think your best bet here is to have an inventory from the Seller where they state which of their possessions are being left and also carry out an inventory of the items belonging to the tenant. You would then be able to cross reference these when it comes to the tenant moving out to ensure nothing is taken / left behind that shouldn’t be

      Hope that makes sense

      Reply
  6. Maria on

    When the Estate Agent showed us round the property he pointed out the boiler and the cupboard. On the actual boiler there was a sticker saying “your system is protected by Magnaclean” “annual service required. When British gas came to inspect the boiler, after purchasing the house, engineer could not find the Magnaclean. Has the seller mislead us? Or perhaps having the Magnaclean removed?

    Reply
  7. Maria Rahman on

    On the inventory the seller said he was taken some hanging lights in the kitchen but he not only took those down but also all the light fittings in the house without notify us. He did replace them with ordinary ceiling pendants. He made extra holes on the ceiling plaster and took 95% of all the bulbs in the house. Now we are worried because the work was done by the seller and does not appear to be done properly. He has admitted in writing that he did the work himself like for like so he claims. But it was not like for like as the original fittings were of a greater value and fitted nicely on the ceiling. The new pendants are smaller so you can see the extra holes made to accommodate the new pendants. In the hallway part of the plaster is missing so you can see quite a big gap. Where do we stand on this

    Reply
  8. Rich on

    I have accepted an offer for the sale of my house, had completed a fictures and fittings form and ticked that we woud be leaving the greenhouse. The buyers solicitors have asked us on the buyers behalf if we would remove the greenhouse. Are we legally obliged to have to remove it, just becaue they’ve asked, even though we’d stated it would be staying?

    Reply
  9. Paul on

    Hi,

    Very useful opinion on the site, thank you for that. I recently purchased a property where the FFC form stated that the cooker hood/extractor until was both installed and included in the sale, yet immediately prior to completion the seller removed the existing hood and replaced it with a vastly inferior product (albeit brand new).

    Furthermore as part of the fitted kitchen there was a built-in coffee machine and wine cooler – both of which they removed without any notification. These two items were not explicitly listed on the FFC form but my assumption was that these would be covered by the ‘fitted kitchen units’ section, which was ticked as included. Now these items have been removed there are gaps in the kitchen with the back wall exposed.

    The seller appears to think they’ve done nothing wrong as ‘an extractor hood is included and the other two items were not explicitly listed on the form’.

    For context there are a lot more items that they have left (such as a glass sided fireplace and ceiling speakers) which are fittings and not explicitly listed. Am I correct in assuming that legally the onus should have been on them to explicitly state and get our agreement in writing if they wanted to remove fittings such as the build-in coffee machine and wine cooler?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Paul,

      This is a conversation best had with your conveyancer as these details should have been stipulated before the exchange of contracts. From our understanding, anything that was to be explicitly left or taken should be agreed in writing prior to exchange

      Reply
  10. Jordan T on

    Hi, my girlfriend and I are buying a house and after our offer was accepted, the estate agent sent an email saying that the oven didn’t work 100% and they ‘wanted to be honest about this from the start’. The listing states “Modern Fitted Kitchen” and “…inset electric oven and grill with four ring electric ceramic hob, stainless steel extractor fan over…”.

    We asked for clarification and they have said the grill might work, but the oven doesn’t. Does this count as mis-advertising? Where do we stand?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Jordan,

      At this stage, if contracts haven’t been exchanged then the house hasn’t been miss-sold with a broken oven. In this instance, we’d suggest a conversation between both sets of solicitors about the repair/replacement or removal of the oven. Can the current owners agree to repairing or replacing the oven prior to sale? Or remove the oven and agree on the cost of a new one to be taken off the sale value?

      Just a couple of ideas to go back with

      If you had purchased the house and the Fixtures and Fittings form said the oven DID work and then you found it it didn’t (at the point of sale) then you’d have a right to go back as this would have been miss sold

      We hope that’s helpful – good luck!

      Reply
  11. Caroline on

    I am in Scotland and have a friend who has just sold her house and the buyers have moved in recently. They have contacted her and said the general bin has been stolen from the property. My friend didn’t live at the property during the selling process so wasn’t aware it had been stolen and now the new owners want my friend to pay for the bin. Where does she stand?

    Reply
    • Alice Fowler on

      Hi Caroline,
      If you mean the general household waste wheelie bin, simply contact the local council, as these should be available free of charge so there should not be a cost involved for your friend. Hope that helps!
      Alice

      Reply
  12. Julie on

    Hi I am buying a property and I don’t want the gas fire or surround can I ask for them to be removed. Also can I ask for the pond in the garden to be drained.

    Reply
  13. Lynda Keevil on

    Hi, we are about to exchange contracts but on packing up the contents under the sink my partner discovered that the undersink kitchen unit (which has been falling apart for a while) was in a state of collapse.
    He took it to the dump. There is now a gaping hole under the sink and I am concerned about how to approach this with the buyers.

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Lynda

      Best thing to do is be honest. If the contracts have been exchanged, the house should be sold in the condition it was found in at the time (with both buyers and sellers agreeing the condition) if there are any changes, the sellers should make the buyers aware and come to an agreement on how to resolve i.e. You’ll take the cost of the new unit iff the sale price, you will fit a new unit or you both split the cost

      Reply
  14. Angela on

    I have made an offer on an empty property that has a chair lift in place. Is it reasonable for me to ask the seller to remove.

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Angela,

      It would not be unreasonable to ask them to remove it. Get it in writing (In your contracts) and agree on who will foot the bill for the removal and the state in which the property will be left in post removal

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  15. Gloria on

    Hi I’m buying a house with tenancy. Part of the furniture in the house belongs to the tenant part belongs to the current owners. The owners want to take the furniture back at the end of the tenancy which is expected to be after the completion of the sale. Can he do that?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Gloria,

      These details should be in the written into the contract between the current owner and the tenants in situ. If they have agreed that the landlord can remove his belongings, that will be between them. Assuming that you’re buying the property with tenants in situ, you’ll then need to come to an agreement with them, too.

      Reply
  16. Gill Sinclair on

    Hi,

    We have sale agreed on a property and the property description clearly stated the kitchen had a range master job and oven and the living room had a feature fireplace. The feature fireplace is actually a built in inset electric fire, there is no surround or fireplace as such. When we received the fixtures and fittings list these are now listed as available to buy. We challenged this via the vendors estate agent as they were on the description and were told they were a description of what was in the room and not an indication they were included in the price. These items would be significantly expensive to replace and and would have impacted our offer had we known. We were just wondering if we have any rights in this situation and the best way to proceed?

    Many thanks in advance, GS

    Reply
  17. Alex Smith on

    Morning , I am in the process of buying a house which is subject to a probate sale. It has been tenanted for several years and the tenants are in the process of moving out. The vendors that have inherited the property are advising that they will not complete the fixtures and fittings form with no real explanation as to why. My concern is that, not only the property could be left completely gutted it could also be left with a lot of junk from the previous tenants and I would have no come back? Would you be renegotiating the price to take into account this risk? Help!!

    Reply
  18. john on

    im the owner of a flat (its leasehold).
    A few months ago i changed the bathroom around, not thinking that i should have asked the freeholders permission. I took out the bath, moved the sink and put in a shower on the other side of the bathroom. Im now about to sell and nervous as i have changed the bathroom and have not asked the freeholder. Will the buyers solicitors question the bathroom layout ? i dont want any issues when selling.
    thank you

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi John

      As far as we’re aware, if there is nothing in your leasehold agreement that states you can’t do any of the work you’ve carried out / re-plumb appliances etc, you should be ok

      Reply
  19. may herrity on

    our house is being bought by the council and they are going to demolish it to make a road what can we take legally from the house we have some very expensive light fittings

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi May

      For such a specific case, you’d need to have this discussion with whomever owns the property. If you are the owner, I’d seek professional legal advice or contact your CAB

      Reply
  20. ANDY REANEY on

    I stated in my fittings and contents form that I was including free standing kitchen white goods in the sale but after exchange of contracts the buyers say they don’t want them. Who is responsible for the disposable and associated costs?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Andy

      Fixtures and fittings technically form part of the contract and you’ve exchanged those so it’s up to the buyer to remove them if they don’t want them but would assume both sets of solicitors should talk to each other to come to an agreement on this

      Reply
  21. Jamie M on

    Hi Franki,

    I have recently purchased a house – I had a verbal discussion with the sellers prior to exchange when they asked what I would and would not like to remain in the house. I stated I would like the white goods but nothing else, and they offered to remove carpets which I accepted.
    I later mis-read the qualified acceptance of my offer in which they removed the inclusion of the white goods, but included the carpets and floor coverings.
    I am now slightly put out at having to replace white goods which I thought were included in the sale, and am considering charging for the replacement of the carpets which were included within the sale (even though not desired) in a way to recoup my additional expense – is this a reasonable approach?

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Jamie,

      For such a specific case, this is best discussed with your solicitor as I am unable to advise

      Reply
  22. Laura Mattingley on

    Hello,

    I bought a house just over a year ago, the vendor left a few items including an outdoor large table with 8 chairs. This wasn’t included in the fixtures and fittings list so I contacted her after a couple of weeks to see when she would be collecting it and was told I could keep it as she didn’t want it anymore. She has contacted me today (a year later) saying she wanted to collect it and when would suit? I’m just wondering where I stand on this from a legal point of view?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Laura

      For such a specific case, we’d suggest talking to your solicitor as we are unable to advise

      Reply
  23. Lynnifred on

    We have sold the house and submitted our fixture and fittings form to our solicitor 3 weeks ago. The stair carpet is stained and the purchasers would have seen this and the form stated that we would be leaving it, however, since their last visit and submitting the forms I spilt a drink on the stair carpet leaving a large pink stain which I’ve not been able to remove. The purchasers would probably wish to replace the carpet in any case, however, this stain would be make it something they would probably want to do straight away.

    Should we contact the solicitors to say it’s no longer included and remove it? Or can we leave it as it is?

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Lynnifred

      As you suggested, it’s probably best to speak to your solicitor about this matter as they will be in a better position to advise

      Reply
  24. Claire Smith on

    I have had an offer accepted on a house, the building survey is due tomorrow and I’ve had the fittings list through. A lot of the legal questions have not been answered and they have missed off providers like who supply electricity. They have just missed off questions completely like “Please provide an EPC certificate” they have put nothing at all.

    What should I do?

    Thanks

    Claire

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Claire,

      Congratulations! I would simply go back and ask them to fill out the missing details; you need to know..!

      Reply
  25. Sue P on

    If certain items are included in the house sales details which have been ‘signed-off’ by the vendor or they then obliged to leave them. My daughter recently bought a house which went to Best and Final Offer and paid £3k more as the details stipulated that all carpets, curtains/blinds, light fittings etc as well as the integral oven and hob, fire and shed. However when they completed the vendor had removed all the curtains? It is my understanding that all items mentioned within the details should then be left??

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Sue,

      From my understanding too, yes, the curtains should have been left. This is something I’d go back tot he solicitors with

      Reply
  26. Hassan ali on

    Hi
    I am buying a house. The seller has made the inventory to say that they are excluding the kitchen units from the sale of the house. Does that mean they have to replace them or do I the buyer negotiate to get a lower sale price.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Hassan,

      In this instance, you and the seller will need to come to an agreement; either they agree to lower the price or they replace, but best to check with your solicitor

      Reply
  27. Sandra Underwood on

    We completed our house purchase recently. The estate agent described it as “FULLY REFURBISHED” (showing this in block capitals) and said it was fitted with a coal/wood burner in the dining room and a fire in the living room.

    Today, the chimney sweep has advised that the coal/wood burner is, “A ticking time bomb and needs to be replaced” and that, “The fire in the living room still has part of a gas fire behind it and a cushion stuck up the chimney, perhaps to stop the draught coming down”.

    Are we liable to rectify these, please?

    Reply

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