ASK ROSS: Fixtures, fittings and outstanding repairs can be a source of tension between house buyers and sellers. This month, Ross explains how to ensure your expectations are met…
Our eminent residential property expert, Ross Ward, answers your questions about moving home. If you have a query about buying or selling, email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have heard of fixtures and fittings but do not understand the difference. Can you explain?
Fixtures are any items that are attached to or form part of the property and are, therefore, included in the sale. For example, the central heating system and the bathroom suite are usually regarded as fixtures and the seller would be expected to leave these on completion.
Fittings, on the other hand, are items that do not form part of the structure of the property and are not included in the sale, unless the seller agrees to leave them behind or a separate price is negotiated. These include carpets, curtains, freestanding furniture and light fittings.
There are one or two grey areas such as satellite dishes, curtain rails and poles and other items that are actually fixed to the property but are often removed by the vendors.
To avoid any confusion, a schedule of fixtures and fittings showing what is included in the sale is normally provided for the buyers before exchange of contracts. Often, this list is also attached to the contracts signed by both parties.
If an additional price has been agreed for certain fittings, then this should be referred to in the contract. There may also be a reference to compensation for the buyer if the seller causes damage to the property whilst removing any fixtures or fittings.
I receive more telephone calls about this matter than any other after the completion of a purchase, but frequently, the cost of trying to resolve a dispute is more than the value of the actual items. Buyers often feel genuinely aggrieved when a seller takes out something that was in the property when they looked around and they assumed would be included in the sale.
If a list of fixtures and fittings is not given to you prior to exchange of contracts, I would advise requesting one specifically to avoid any dispute once the sale has taken place.
I have agreed that £2,000 will be retained when we complete on the house I am buying to cover the cost of some outstanding repair work. Who will hold the money?
Your solicitor will negotiate a clause in your contract to make it clear which party will retain the £2,000 and who will consequently benefit from any interest on completion.
It can be agreed that your solicitor will hold the money until the work has been done, or that the seller’s solicitor will set up a deposit account opened in the joint names of you and the current owners.
There should also be a limit set on how long the money will be held, so that if the work is not carried out, it can be released so you can instruct contractors.