When buying a property Title, Planning and Mapping are generally regarded as the important matters and a Structural Survey when the property is a second-hand property. In my experience very little attention is placed on what is included with the sale of the property.

The first notification of the sale is normally put together by the Auctioneer who then sends details of the sale to the Purchaser’s solicitor and to the Vendor’s solicitor. This notification generally gives particulars of the property and the price and in some cases will detail what items of furniture, white goods, carpets, curtains and blinds are included in the sale. Generally, very little attention is given to the contents of the property.  

It is important for the Purchaser to inform his solicitor when meeting for the signing of contracts if there are certain contents in the premises included in the sale. Likewise, the solicitor acting in the sale should raise the question of contents with the purchaser if the purchaser does not mention contents and the notification from the Auctioneer is silent on contents. 

In my earlier years of practice as a solicitor, the question of contents and fixtures and fittings came up quite often as of course there were less fitted kitchens and fitted furniture in houses in those days. The issues arose after completion and the Purchaser would find items removed from the house which he/she assumed were included. The test as to what was a fixture was if removed would it leave a damaged area or marks where the item was affixed to the wall. I can remember vividly a client purchaser contacting me after he had taken possession asking me “If the Vendor was entitled to remove the toilet seat!” Quite clearly a toilet seat is a fixture.   

More recently I purchased a property for a client and the Sales Notification, and the Contract and my client were all silent in regard to contents. Nearing completion my client informed me that the blinds in the house were included in the sale. Needless to say, I expressed surprise and checked Contract and Sales advice and there was no mention of blinds being included in the sale. My client informed me she received an email from the Auctioneer confirming the blinds were included. I raised the matter with the Vendor’s solicitor and after contacting her clients informed me that the blinds were owned by the tenant in the house and on vacating the house the tenant was taking her blinds. 

The moral of the story is Contents, Fixtures and Fittings should always be addressed when entering into contracts for purchase of properties.

Niall Sheehy

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