Unfortunately for buyers and sellers, there are many disputes regarding fixtures and fittings and whether or not they are included in the sale of a property.
As a general rule, if they are fitted to the property they stay, and if they are not, then they go. But there are some exceptions.
Keys and remotes for example, aren’t physically fixed to the property. But the door-locks and garage auto-motors are – and it’s implied that, in order for these to operate properly, the keys and remotes are supplied as well. So all keys and remotes would be included in the sale.
Curtain rails and rods, and window blinds are also fitted to the property – so these would not be removed. The same applies to satellite dishes and TV aerials and their associated cables. This would apply to fitted gas appliances, like a gas fireplace or cooking hob. The gas bottles would stay with the property as they are critical to the operation of the hob and fireplace.
Strange as it may seem, we’ve encountered sellers that have removed the globes from all the light fittings when they move out. But globes go with the light fittings, otherwise they would not be operational.
By default bar stools are included with a fitted bar, unless specifically excluded.
Alarm systems and irrigation systems are also included if they exist, and it is assumed they are in good working order. If not then a seller must disclose this, or they will be liable to have these repaired at their cost for the purchaser.
What if the seller intends to remove a valuable chandelier, or a family heirloom light fitting? This needs to be disclosed to the estate agent and the purchaser and specifically excluded from the sale in the sales agreement. The seller would have to replace the light fitting at their cost within a price range which would need to be stipulated in the contract.
As a general rule it is best to specify which fixtures are included in the sale, and which are specifically excluded. If necessary, type a list as an addendum and include this as part of the deed of sale, signed by both parties. The fewer grey areas the less the potential for confusion and conflict.
Sometimes a seller may sell a property that is rented out, and a buyer views and purchases the property with certain fixtures that the tenant may have fitted and owns. It’s important to exclude fixtures from a sale that a tenant owns and will be removing, if he is entitled to do so. It’s sadly does happen that a seller has to replace the fixtures at his cost so that the purchaser receives what he purchased as viewed.
If in doubt, specify it in the contract. It’s better to raise the issue before a contract is concluded, then hope the problem will disappear later. I’ve seen many a sale end in messy disputes where exclusions are not specified. If you are a buyer and you’re not sure what’s included, then ask the agent – don’t assume.
Even better, be sure to discuss with your estate agent at the time of listing exactly what is staying and what is going, and list these in your sole mandate agreement. A professional agent has an obligation to then disclose this to a purchaser and specify the exclusions and inclusions in the deed of sale.
Principal of Harcourts Platinum, and Director of Harcourts South Africa
Email your real estate question to firstname.lastname@example.org.