You’ve just made an offer to buy a property for your next investment and it’s been accepted.

That’s great news, but what actually comes with the property when you settle?

Is it everything in that you saw when you inspected the property?

Clearly not – some of the items in the property belonged to the  vendor. You didn’t really expect to get that big plasma TV thrown in did you? But what about the dishwasher? Does it stay or can the seller take it with him

This is where arguments start – when either the buyer or seller assume certain items stay or go.

 How do you decide what stays and what goes?

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There is a general legal principle that when you buy a property you get transfer of a title and that gives you a right to the land and anything affixed to it.

Obviously this includes a dwelling and this extends to anything that is affixed to the dwelling.

I remember one solicitor explaining it to me by saying: “Imagine you took the house and tipped it upside down. Then whatever falls out, doesn’t stay with the house when you take possession”. Whilst simple in form, you get the idea.

In legal terms there are generally two classes of items in a property: goods or chattels and fixtures or fittings.

Fixtures (the bit that doesn’t fall out when you tip it upside down) are part of the property and are sold with the property.

On the other hands goods are movable items which the vendor can take with them at settlement.

But sometimes things aren’t clear.

The vendor bought a new dishwasher only  a few months ago – it looks built in, but there really aren’t any screws holding it in place. Does it stay or does it go?

That’s why when you buy a property or sell one, it’s important to complete the section of the contract of sale concerning goods.

This is where you list items which as either staying or going. Often this section will say the sale includes “all fixed floor covering, light fittings and window furnishing, excluding the garden shed in the back yard”.

If there is any doubt about an item ask the selling agent and ensure it is mentioned in the contract, as it is different expectations between the buyer and seller that causes disputes.

By the way…

I’ve used the example of a dishwasher a few times, because this is one of the common areas of dispute. In general if the dishwasher is free standing it is a good, but if it’s mounted under a bench it’s a fixture and stays.

Michael Yardney
About Michael Yardney
Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media.