The Difference Between a Fixture and a Chattel – and Why It Matters

If you are buying or selling a house you may hear something about fixtures and chattels. It’s important to have your property lawyers explain the difference in these terms, since they are usually included in the terms of agreement and the purchase/sale documents. If you don’t understand what they refer to, you could be disappointed once the removalists leave and you move into your new home to find out something is not there when you expected it to be.

Fixtures

Generally speaking, a fixture is something that is attached to the land or property. However, even though it may seem very obvious as to what is attached and what isn’t, there are some variations, just to keep you on your toes. In some cases, chattels can become fixtures and fixtures can become chattels. In one case of selling an old theatre, the question arose as to whether the seats were fixtures, since they were actually bolted to the floor and to each other. Oddly enough, a court decided they were not fixtures, but chattels, so they were not to be considered part of the theatre. This was in spite of the definition of a fixture being anything that is attached to the land through anything but its own weight.