Fixtures & Fittings- What are the rules? Having worked in lettings for a number of years, I was quite surprised by a landlord’s response after receiving an offer on his 2 bed property. The property was unfurnished, which for a rental property means that all the ‘fittings’ remain however beds, sofas, wardrobes etc would need to be provided by the tenants. Therefore his question on how much the tenants were offering for the large American style fridge, the dishwasher and the washing machine did indeed produce a wide-eyed moment from me. He did not want to be accountable for any problems that may arise with these goods, and fork out on a repair bill so was going to remove these appliances altogether and put into a paid storage unit?! Conversely, this is actually a grey area, as it is the common assumption that if these goods are provided then automatically it is the landlord’s duty to repair and maintain. However if the landlords or agents Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) states that they are responsible and the items are listed in the inventory then this is certainly the case. It is true that the landlord could also have removed these items from the kitchen, however our job of finding tenants in an already competitive market without these “basic amenities,” I think would have proved almost impossible. However within a sales transaction of a property this behaviour is of course expected. Unless the fixtures and fittings have been negotiated prior to the purchase, then buyers have indeed received the keys to their new home and found an unexpected empty shell with bare wires bristling in all rooms, carpets ripped up and even doorknobs removed. Peering into the garden may also make one recoil in shock as the lawn and shed have been removed, and even the pretty roses have been dug out and carted off out of there. Whereas this is not necessarily wrong and illegal, it can be a nasty surprise if assumptions were made that certain things would be remaining and nothing formally put down on paper. Or even when the list of included fittings and fittings is revealed quite far down the sale transaction line, then this can result in the buyer reducing their offer. It is best for the vendor to remember that when purchasing a home, people’s budgets can be squeezed to the max. Throwing up unexpected fittings that will be removed can make the buyer have a heart attack about another cost. Therefore it is wise for a vendor to present to their agents and potential interested parties an informal inventory of what is included, and also things that you will leave behind but at a cost. Fixtures are standardly defined as things that are bolted to the walls and floor, including radiators, boilers, built-in wardrobes, light fittings, kitchen units, and bathroom suites. Fittings on the other hand are free-standing units, such as fridge/freezers, furniture, TV dishes etc. If something is removed that had been agreed upon, then the vendor can face small claims proceedings on their hands. On the flipside of this problem is that some buyers have been left with the previous owners belongings and junk that they have had to take care of. There can also be a further cost for removing and disposing of these items. Vendors should certainly not be negligent with this either, as they will face the removal bills having broken their contract with the buyer for not providing a property vacant and ready for possession. If the vendor needs more time to remove their belongings than originally agreed they must consult their solicitor in order to negotiate this with the other party. By Natalie Elms. Senior Sales & Lettings Negotiator at Property People. Estate agents in Wimbledon Park
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