Fixtures and chattels: Here’s what you need to know when buying or selling a residential property

Buying or selling residential property is exciting; whether you’re buying your first home, purchasing an investment property, or looking to sell up and downsize, now the kids have finally moved out of home. 

But no matter whether you’re buying or selling residential property, it can be difficult to understand the difference between fixtures and chattels and what they can mean for you, both now and in the future. 

For instance, if you go to an open inspection and love the light fitting in the front hallway or the garden bench on the front porch, would you know if they’re yours to keep if you purchase the property?

So, to help you avoid potentially costly and prolonged disputes in the future, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know whether you’re buying or selling a residential property. 

Firstly, what are fixtures and chattels?

In simple terms, fixtures are items that are fixed to the property in some way. Think of it this way. Imagine tipping the property upside down. Fixtures are the goods that wouldn’t fall out and include things such as a rainwater tank or a built-in bookshelf.

But a chattel, on the other hand, is an item that isn’t attached to the property and is considered easily removable without causing any issues. And so, these are the items that would fall out if you tipped the property upside down. Some examples of chattels are TVs, fridges, rugs, couches, or gardening tools, amongst many others.

So, what should I know about fixtures and chattels when buying or selling a property?

When settlement occurs, and the transfer of title takes place, fixtures will remain with the property and therefore be owned by the purchaser. While personal chattels will remain the property of the vendor.

However, disputes can easily arise when it’s difficult to determine if an item is considered a fixture or not.

Let’s give you an example.

The owner of the property you’re looking to purchase has recently bought a new dishwasher. You, as the buyer, believe the dishwasher is a fixture as it’s part of the kitchen. 

But because the dishwasher stands alone from the kitchen cabinet and therefore there isn’t anything holding the appliance in place, the vendor believes it’s a chattel and wants to take it with them to their new property.

And so, to avoid the possibility of any potential prolonged and costly disputes in the future, it’s important to ensure that all items which are either included or excluded from the sale of the property are clearly set out in the Contract of Sale.

Therefore, if the vendor wishes to keep any specific fixtures, these must be stipulated in the Contract. Or, if the purchaser and vendor agree that certain chattels will remain with the property, such as kitchen appliances or pot plants, these must also be defined.

What else should I consider when dealing with chattels?

Some items which may normally be considered a fixture and an essential part of the home may not be included in the sale of a property because they still need to be paid off by the vendor.

If this is the case, the additional cost of taking over the payments of the item from the vendor or the expense of replacing these items should be given careful consideration when a purchase price is negotiated.

In addition, any repair costs associated with the removal of any chattels must also be considered when a purchase price is agreed upon. 

Who should I turn to for further advice or guidance concerning fixtures and chattels?

Property transactions can be stressful and confusing, particularly if you’ve never experienced one before. But seeking advice and guidance from a property expert can turn a hectic process into a smooth, seamless, stress-free transaction.

At Beltana Conveyancing, we are experienced conveyancers in South Australia, who can help solve your property puzzle.

We understand the ins and outs of fixtures and chattels and the processes involved in buying and selling residential property. So, no matter whether you’re looking to purchase your dream home or an investment property, or if you want to sell your current home and move on to your next adventure, we’re here for you from the beginning of your journey until settlement.

Quite simply, our mission is to make your property transaction experience smooth, simple, stress-free, and most importantly, enjoyable. 

So, if you’d like to chat about your current situation and where you’d like to be, we’d love to hear from you and find out how we can help you achieve your property goals. 


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