Chattels vs Fixtures

You don’t have to look very hard to find a story about someone buying a cottage who discovers on closing day, an item that has been removed by the seller that they thought was included in the sale.

It is important to first understand the difference between what is a chattel and what is a fixture. A chattel is personal, as opposed to real property; any tangible, movable property, such as furniture. A fixture is any physical property that is permanently attached. This is an important aspect to understand whether you are buying a cottage or a year round residence.

Chattels and fixtures can have very subjective values to buyers and sellers both. Oftentimes, cottages are sold ‘turn key’ and completely furnished. This can add to the confusion. My advice is always to include in an offer a detailed list of the items you want to ensure are a part of the deal. On paper, it is a clear, concise way for buyer and seller to manage their expectations of what is to be left with the property. This helps reduce the amount of ‘gray area’ that can occur. Is it of great importance to you that the TV wall mount stays with the cottage/home?? If so, be sure to ask for it as an ‘inclusion’. Don’t assume. As far as chattels go, the general rule of thumb is ‘if its not INCLUDED in the sale, it is considered by default, EXCLUDED’. You can see how the gray area happens. One person might believe that a TV wall mount is attached and therefore a fixture, while another might view that as a part of the TV, which typically is personal, or ‘chattel’.

Another good idea is for the buyer to include a clause in the offer allowing a pre-closing visit to the property. By conducting a final walk through, you can verify that all items that should be left with the property, have been. And conversely, ensure that all items not included, have been removed.

At the end of the day, please try and remember that if you are buying a waterfront cottage, the main thing you are buying is a beautiful piece of heaven to come and relax at. Try not to get too amped up if the Seller left behind only 1 paddle instead of 2 with the canoe. Focus on the big picture. For the most part, the value of what you are purchasing is the cottage and the property, not the ‘things’.

If you are looking to make a purchase in the Haliburton area, call Melanie Hevesi today. She will find out what is important to you and take the confusing, ‘gray area’, out of chattels, fixtures, inclusions and exclusions.

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