One of the most common questions that come across our conveyancing desks is what should I leave in my property and what should I expect the seller of the property I am buying to leave. This should not come as a surprise given that fixtures and fittings is one of the most sensitive issues to arise during the transaction. Upon a viewing of a furnished property you tend to build an impression of the property you are buying and when it comes to completion and you move in there is often a sense of disappointment. Your expectation just does not match what you see!
So legally what is the position with fixtures and fittings? Well its quiet simple the seller is not obliged to leave any items; all they have to do when completing the Fixture and Fittings form is to state what they are willing to leave.
I recently moved and the seller aggrieved perhaps that he was selling undervalue decided to take all of the light fittings, the shelves that could only ever fit the alcove they were serving and most of the curtain poles. To be fair he did make good the plasterwork and replaced all of the light fittings with some cheap spotlights.
Even though the Fixtures and Fitting form is used to provide a list of what is to be left and what is to be taken it is not always easy to read and can often cause confusion. For this reason if you are unsure either get your solicitor to question the form or speak with the seller direct and agree an inventory. This can then be attached to the contract.
This is important as if you remove something that the purchaser thought you were leaving you could find yourself in court.
So what is the technical definition of fixtures and fittings? A fixture is any item that is bolted to the floor or walls; a fitting is any item that is freestanding or hung by a hook or nail.
The focus of attention is normally on the property, the bricks and mortar, and the fixtures and fittings often do not get the attention they deserve. Remember however to replace all fitted and freestanding furniture, central heating fixtures, telephones, curtains, curtain poles, satellite dishes, fireplaces and external dustbins could cost well in excess of £10,000.
For this reason it is important to pause and to take time to consider what is to be left and what you might wish to retain. You can always negotiate and agree a price for items that you would like to keep.