Disputes about what’s included – a common cause of deals falling through
When surveyors inspect a property their main focus is on the stability and safety of the structure, and whether the building functions properly.
In a typical survey attention is also paid to the condition of the various materials used to construct the building as well as a visual inspection of the main services and the fitted kitchen units and bathroom sanitary fittings. But they won’t normally report on things like curtain rails and carpets unless there are glaring dangers.
But what exactly constitutes a ‘fixture’? And how does this differ from a ‘fitting’? Although there are rules of thumb, there are some grey areas where no one actually seems to be 100% certain. A fixture is something that’s permanently fixed in place, and being attached to the building can’t be picked up and walked away with.
Fittings, on the other hand, can be easily removed and are normally packed up and taken away. One obvious inconsistency here is that ‘fitted’ kitchens and sanitary ‘fittings’ are fixed in place and obviously part of the property you’re buying!
The test is whether removing the thing would damage the property. So things like light pendants and laminate flooring are considered to be fixed, and are left in place, as are TV aerials, fitted hobs and ovens (but not freestanding ranges), and anything that is obviously part of the house, such as the doors! But it’s the grey areas that can be a fruitful source of argument. Plant pots can be moved, unless of course they’re incredibly heavy, and what about shelves and curtain rails?
In theory what’s included in the sale and what isn’t should be clear from the outset. One of the first tasks when selling is to complete a detailed list. Despite this, many a potential purchase has hit the rocks months later with arguments raging over such things as ownership of toilet roll holders, coat hooks and light fittings. But no matter how annoying the other side are you will ultimately be better off if you’re prepared to compromise on minor bits and pieces.
It may sound laughably petty, but fixtures and fittings can sometimes be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – ultimately becoming ‘a matter of principle’. In other words, the process of buying a house can get you so stressed out that you’re prepared to walk away just to teach them a lesson.
If this happens, take a deep breath. Keep your eyes on the big picture and be prepared to lose a few quid on minor bits and pieces. You could buy a zillion heated loo seats for the cost of the deal falling through. Don’t be bloody-minded just to prove a matter of principle.
Our next blog – coming soon …….
Oh no! What if there’s ‘insufficient funds’?
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