When You Move There Can Be Variance In Which Chattel and Fixtures Remain

Owning real estate means navigating a complex set of laws. When your tenants move out, they might be able to remove their chattel. But, all the fixtures must remain. What's the difference between them, though?

Generally, fixtures are things attached to the property. Chattel would be things that can be removed more easily. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial. Otherwise, you could end up in a costly legal dispute. We'll describe how you can determine which things are which on your property. That way, you won't have to worry about unnecessary legal fees.

What is Considered to Be Chattel?

Chattel is usually considered to be any type of personal property. Tenants can bring chattel to a rental property without requesting approval, usually. Once they're moving out, they can take the chattel with them. So, it's important to understand what exactly qualifies as chattel.

If you can remove the item without damaging the property, it's probably chattel. For example, a hanging pot would probably qualify. Some types of lawn equipment could also be chattel. One example would be an outdoor grill. Your tenants can add them while they're living on the premises. Then, they can remove them once they're ready to leave.

Most electronics would also be considered chattel. So, you can't force them to leave their TVs, either. Even washing machines would more than likely be considered chattel if they are brought in. 

What are Considered to be Fixtures?

Fixtures are things meant to be more permanent on the property. There's a ton of different things that would qualify as a fixture. A new toilet would be one of them. Common practice is another consideration you've got to keep in mind. If it's common to leave something, it's more likely to be considered a fixture. Light bulbs, plumbing, and wallpaper are all fixtures typically.

The degree of fixation is something else courts regularly consider. When something is fixed to the property, it's more likely to be a fixture as well. Tenants can't add fixtures without the consent of the property owners. If they do, you might be able to sue them for damages. Even property improvements should be run by the owners before anything is done.

If you're purchasing a property, it's assumed all fixtures will remain. Removing them without notifying the buyer could be a break of the contract. So, in general, fixtures are things meant to remain on the property. If it's fixed to the property, it's more likely to be considered a fixture. And, common practices have a large impact on considerations as well.

Avoiding a Dispute

Property settlements are an important part of any real estate transaction. Understanding the difference between chattel and fixtures is essential during property settlements. Otherwise, you might end up in a dispute. To avoid disputes, you should make sure you note everything on the property.

Typically, fixtures should be left unless you've noted their removal in the contract. Chattel can be removed without notifying the buyer. If you'd like to leave the chattel, you've got to notify buyers.

As long as you keep track of everything, disputes should be uncommon. However, it's not unheard of for buyers to initiate them without reason. Keeping track of things should help you if something like that ever happens. You'll be able to show the courts everything was done by the book.