Fixture Rules: What's Included & Excluded
WHAT IS A FIXTURE?
When personal property is bolted, screwed, nailed, plastered, cemented, built-in or otherwise permanently attached to the building or land, it is converted into a fixture that becomes part of the real property. For example,
a built-in dishwasher that fits into a kitchen cabinet which is bolted or screwed to the wall, making it a fixture included in the sale price.
THE THREE FIXTURE RULES.
(1) THE METHOD OF ATTACHMENT.
Nails, screws, cement, glue, and built - in cabinets are common methods of attachment. To illustrate, drapes hanging on a drapery rod are not permanently attached, but the drapery
rod that's screwed into the wall is a fixture because its removal would cause damage. Ceramic tile that is glued to the floor and wall-to-wall carpet
tacked to the floor is part of the
real property, but a rug lying on the floor is not a fixture since it is
not permanently attached. If the item was built in to the structure, such as
a security alarm system, it has become
a fixture. Similarly, the special
wiring in the walls is also part of
(2) INTENT OF THE PARTIES.
Conduct of the buyer and seller or their written agreement, often indicates their intent. For example, if the seller had excluded the chandelier and ceiling fan, even though it was a fixture, the seller would have been entitled to remove it.
Similarly, if a landlord gives the tenant permission to install wall-to wall carpeting on the condition the carpeting remains when the tenant leaves. It thereby has become a permanent fixture as shown by the intent of the parties.
(3) AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES.
Experienced Realtors anticipate fixture disputes by using a well-written purchase contract clause, such as, "All items permanently attached to the property including: attached floor coverings, draperies, shades, blinds with hardware, window and door screens, awnings, light fixtures, electric garage door openers, outdoor plants, and trees are included in the agreement of sale.
Although some of those items are obviously non-fixture personal properties, the agreement of the parties in the sales contract makes them an inclusion.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULES
A major exception to the law of fixtures occurs if the item is used in a business. Then it is called a "trade fixture". A business owner may remove trade fixtures, even if permanently attached to the structure, providing the premises are restored to the previous condition before the business tenant moved in. Examples includes restaurant equipment such as tables, chairs, bars, walk-in refrigerators and business signs. So, remember these fixture rules