Real Estate Question: What are Chattels and Fixtures?

Wednesday Aug 30th, 2017


Do the terms ‘chattel’ and ‘fixture’ have you scratching your head? Can’t tell which one is what? Don’t worry – many homeowners have this question as they are preparing their home for sale, as do buyers who are looking to make a purchase.

You may have heard the saying: “If it takes a tool, that’s the rule.” In other words, if the item is so attached that it requires a tool to remove it, then it’s presumed to be a fixture. If it is not attached at all or only requires a simple nail or screw, then it is a chattel. 

A helpful visual is to imagine taking a home, turning it upside down and giving it a gentle shake. Whatever remains in place is considered a fixture and anything that falls out is a chattel. 

Over the years, I’ve heard sellers taking mirrors, drapes, light fixtures, garage door openers, swimming pool equipment, garden sheds and even trees or prized plants with them. A garage door opener might appear to be a chattel since you hold the remote in your hand, but it’s most likely a fixture since it’s part of the built-in garage-door assembly. 

Televisions are another tricky area. A wall-mounted television looks like a chattel, but if it is part of built-in shelving with complicated electronic hook-up inside the walls, then it could be considered a fixture. 

See where I’m going with this? Determining chattels and fixtures can be confusing.

That’s why, when drawing up a listing agreement, your realtor will ask you if there are any fixtures that you would like to exclude, like an antique chandelier or tailored drapes that you had custom-made to match your furnishings. In the case of a chandelier, a buyer may ask that you replace the item with a substitute, so they have a useable light come move-in day. This is a reasonable request – one that you should cooperate with.

On the other side of the coin, when you are buying a home, your real estate sales representative will ask you if there are chattels what you would like to include in your offer. Some buyers ask to have major appliances included or large pieces of furniture that fit the space well. I’ve even seen buyers request that a pool table is included – why not? At the end of the day, the seller can decline the inclusion, but the option to include such chattels is there.

For more answers to home buying and selling questions, such as these, as well as the latest news and insight into Mississauga’s real estate market, be sure to follow along with me on Facebook. Or, if you are thinking of listing your home for sale, please contact me to schedule a free home evaluation.

Post a comment