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.
- 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)
- Kitchen units
- Wall paintings
- Paintings or mirrors that are not bolted but hung or screwed to a wall.
- Curtains and curtain rails
- Free-standing ovens, refrigerators and washing machines
- Beds/sofas and other free standing items of furniture
- 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.
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.
|Room||Fixture/Fitting||Included in purchase (tick or cross)|
|Shutters & Grills|
|Interior Door Furniture|
|Exterior Door Furniture|
|Built-in Appliances (specify):|
|Living/ Dining & Bedrooms||Curtains (Including net curtains)|
|Curtain Rails, Fittings, Tracks & Poles|
|Wall Fittings (shelves/mirrors etc.)|
|Shower or Bath Unit|
|Soap & Toothbrush Holders|
|Shower Fittings & Curtain|
|Trees, Plants, Flowers|
|Garden Equipment & Furniture (Specify)|
|Satellite Dish/TV Aerial|
|I hereby certify that the items checked and noted on this agreement are included in the sale price of the property.|
|SIGNED: _________________________||House Seller|
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.