2 February 2022

Moving home? Don’t fall out over the fixtures and fittings

By Chris Cosgrave, Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

A home buyer on an internet forum asked, “What is the pettiest thing your seller has removed?” Most replies are light-hearted: a loo roll holder, the curtain rails, a basketball hoop from above the garage door. Some tell a different story of buyers moving in and discovering missing kitchen units or damage from ripped out fixtures and fittings. Others tell of an attic still full of junk.

Fixtures, fittings and contents can quickly become a source of irritation between buyers and sellers. In some cases, their removal may even result in a costly dispute. However, these sorts of problems can be easily avoided.

What are fixtures, fittings and contents ?

Generally, fixtures are an integral part of the property and which you would expect to remain eg an oven/hob as part of a fitted kitchen or fitted wardrobes. In contrast, fittings are items you can more easily remove. For example curtain poles/rails are fittings which might be removed. Curtains too, which are contents, are often removed unless the seller agrees with the buyer to leave them.

How do I know what the Seller will leave and what will be taken?

So that a buyer knows what items will remain at the property and what will be taken the seller should complete a standard Law Society form TA10. This has 11 different sections for the seller to complete i.e. kitchen, bathroom, carpets, light fittings etc. and the seller can indicate whether any given items will remain or be removed.

There may be some items which the seller will leave at the property as long as the buyer pays an additional amount eg. An expensive light fitting. If an additional payment is required, it is usually better to have the amount stated in the sale contract as such and then it is paid with the main purchase price at completion.

Some sellers and buyers will arrange to pay any such additional amount between themselves.

If there is a specific item which attracted you to the property initially, for example an aga, you will need to check this form to ensure it will remain at the property, or ask your solicitor to check this with the seller’s solicitor.

Vacant possession

This means that the seller should remove all items they said they would, including every plant pot and paint brush. It also includes themselves, anyone staying with them and any pets.
Sometimes a seller will leave items or rubbish which they should have taken.

In these circumstances the most effective option is to give the seller, via their solicitor, a number of days to remove the offending items. If the seller does not cooperate, the buyer is free to dispose of them.

This may involve the buyer incurring some expenditure but that has to be weighed against the inconvenience of unwanted items at the property which, in practice, the seller has no intention of removing.

For further information, please contact Chris Cosgrave in the residential property team on 01760 724424 or email chris.cosgrave@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.