Buying a house? It’s essential to clarify the seller is taking and what they’re leaving – also known as fixtures and fittings.
Unsure where to start?
You need to know what it all means, what to expect and what the law says. We’ve got that all covered – to help you buy a house as smoothly as possible. Keep reading for everything you need to know.
What are fixtures and fittings?
Although things can vary, there are some general rules. Here’s a look at what is classed as fixtures and fittings:
Items which are ‘fixed’ to the building and can’t be lifted or physically moved.
This could be the boiler or the shower, for example.
In other words, a fixture is something that is physically part of the building itself or the land on which it sits.
A fitting, on the other hand, is free standing and can be easily lifted, such as a painting, fridge, curtains etc:
If you tipped the house upside down and shook it, everything that fell out would be fitting.
What is ‘normal’ to take when selling a property?
It’s important you understand which items are included in the sale. You’ll want to find this out prior to completion!
When moving home most sellers will take items such as:
- Sofas, beds and other furniture
- Accessories i.e. mirrors, pictures and lampshades
- Curtains and curtain rails
- TV aerials and satellite dishes
- White goods such as washing machines and fridges
- Garden ornaments and pot plants
Bear in mind – these aren’t set, but dependent on the individual situation between you and the seller.
What is usually included in the property sale?
Every situation is different, so there are no hard and fast rules. Prior to exchange, you need to know what you’ll be getting.
Generally, the following are included:
- The heating system
- Any built-in wardrobes and cupboards such as kitchen cabinetry
- Bathroom suites
- Plugs and light fittings
- Paintings which have been physically drawn on the wall (such as a mural)
Fixtures and fittings definition
There’s no law to define what should be included in a house sale. Instead, it should be made clear in an inventory of sale.
This should be included in the price of the property, together with a list of what the seller intends to take with them.
There will be a fixtures and fitting list included within the legal paperwork, so buyers should go through this very carefully. There are no rules for what a buyer has to take or leave – so try not to make too many assumptions – you may end up disappointed.
Fixtures and fittings property law
What does the law say?
There are no rules about what must be removed from the property, or left behind. Legally, the seller isn’t obligated to leave any furniture or any specific items. However, they also have a responsibility to explain what will and won’t be there when they move house. Clarity is key here.
This is where an inventory will become extremely important. Unless the seller has expressly stated otherwise, it’s usually assumed that fittings will be taken and fixtures left.
Why do difficulties arise?
This can land buyers and sellers into tricky situations – as disagreements can arise. Many buyers find themselves in disputes around this topic.
Buyers left disappointed
Buyers sometimes expect certain items to be left in the property, only to find they’re taken away. These can have an impact on the value of a house, so it’s easy to see why disagreements can arise.
In some cases, knowing a particular fixture or fitting would be removed would change someone’s mind on whether to buy.
Buyers feeling duped
If something is removed without the buyer being told, sellers can be taken to the Small Claims Court. They may then have to pay the cost of replacing the item.
This is why it’s essential to clarify what will and won’t be included in the sale early on in the process. This will give you the best possible chance of reducing the risk of disputes.
Does this impact stamp duty?
Sometimes when fixtures and fittings are included in the price of the property, this can affect your stamp duty tax.
If an item is considered a fixture, it will be taxed.
A ‘chattel’ is a moveable object that will not attract stamp duty tax. It does not form part of the land, but is a personal item that is separate from the property.
Can they be added to your mortgage?
Generally, the property price should include fixtures and fittings, which is why many disputes have arisen when certain items are taken away.
Many buyers use this as leverage to help them negotiate.
Negotiating a house price
If you find out certain things aren’t included in the sale, you can use this to help you negotiate a house price.
This can help you get the most for your money.
Adding certain items
If the seller won’t budge on the price, this can work the other way. You can ask them to include certain fixtures and fittings in the sale.
There are no guarantees the seller will agree to this. However, if they do, this can save you money in the long run.
You’re about to part with a significant amount of money, so every little helps! It’s worth asking as in this case, don’t ask don’t get!
Tips for negotiation
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to negotiation, we’ve got some top tips to help you navigate the process.
- Be as clear as possible, as miscommunication at this stage will cause problems later on down the line
- Be polite, friendly and approachable, as you’re more likely to get what you want from the seller
- Explain your reasoning behind your decisions, to help the seller see it your way
- Try not to be unreasonable, this won’t help you get what you want from the seller and you may risk fracturing the relationship
- Confirm any decisions made in writing, as this mitigates against the possibility of disputes or disagreements further on down the line
- If possible, do it face to face – meaning can be lost in writing
Are things different with new builds?
If buying a new build home, it’s generally assumed that everything within the property is included in the sale. Since no one has lived there before, you won’t need to enter conversations about what’s being taken by the seller.
However, bear in mind that open communication with your property developer is still of paramount importance. Ensure you’re clear on exactly what you’ll be getting for your money.
Get the right legal advice
Throughout the entire house buying journey, including the exchange of contracts, finding a good solicitor is key. Many try to navigate this alone, only to find the conveyancing process is tougher than anticipated!
From liaising with the seller’s solicitor to dealing with the estate agent, your conveyancer will deal with many different parts of the house buying process.
We can connect you with a professional, experienced property solicitor to help guide you every step of the way. They work on a no sale no fee basis, which means you can feel confident in the fact they have your best interests at heart.
Get your free solicitor quote below.
Last Updated: August 12th, 2021