What is a Fixture?


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In legal terms, a fixture is a piece of property that has been attached or affixed to real estate (like land or buildings) and is thus regarded as part of the property. Once an item becomes a fixture, it is considered real property, not personal property, and usually is sold with the property it is attached to.

In general, the determining factor for whether an item is a fixture or personal property is its level of attachment to the property. If it would cause damage to the property to remove the item, or if the item cannot function as intended if it were removed, it is typically considered a fixture.

Examples of fixtures might include:

  • Built-in kitchen appliances: These appliances, such as dishwashers or ovens, are often installed into the cabinetry of a kitchen and are considered fixtures.
  • Light fixtures: Once installed, light fixtures become part of the electrical system of a building and are thus considered fixtures.
  • Window blinds or curtains: These are attached to the window or wall and typically stay with the property when it is sold.
  • Landscaping: Trees, shrubs, or flowers planted in the ground are generally considered fixtures.
  • Heating and cooling systems: Central air conditioning units or furnaces, once installed, are considered fixtures.

It’s important to note that what constitutes a fixture can sometimes be a source of confusion or dispute when real estate is sold, so it’s often addressed specifically in a real estate contract. For example, if a seller wants to take a particular chandelier (which would normally be considered a fixture) with them when they sell the house, they would specify in the contract that the chandelier is not included in the sale.

Example of a Fixture

Let’s consider an example to better illustrate what a fixture is in the context of real estate.

Imagine you bought a new house. In the living room of this house, there’s a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The chandelier is bolted into the ceiling, wired into the home’s electrical system, and would leave noticeable damage if removed.

In this case, the chandelier is considered a fixture. It’s firmly attached to the property and is treated as part of the real estate. So, when you bought the house, the chandelier would typically be included as part of your purchase unless specifically excluded in the sales contract.

Let’s contrast this with a floor lamp in the corner of the living room. While it’s in the house, it’s not attached to the property. It’s merely plugged into an electrical outlet and can easily be moved without causing any damage to the property. This floor lamp would be considered personal property, not a fixture, and wouldn’t automatically be included in the sale of the house unless it was specifically agreed upon.

Remember, what is and isn’t a fixture can sometimes be a grey area and a source of dispute in real estate transactions. As such, it’s always a good idea to be clear in the contract about what is being sold with the property.

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