What should you take with you when you move house?

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Abby Hewitt

Conveyancing Executive (MCILEx)

The difference between Fixtures and Fittings

Generally speaking, “fixtures” are part of the property and “fittings” are personal belongings, otherwise known as “chattels”. Usually, fixtures are left at the property when you move and fittings are taken with you. But how do you differentiate the two?

The degree of annexation

The greater the degree of annexation to the land, the more likely it is to be a fixture. This would usually include fitted units, such as kitchen cabinets, or fitted wardrobes. In Holland v Hodgson (1872), the Seller wanted to take spinning looms with them when they sold a property, but the Buyer argued that they were bolted to the floor and so they should be left behind as part of the sale, which was agreed. Alternatively, a greenhouse that was held down by no more than its own weight in Dean v Andrews (1985) was deemed to be a fitting so was not included in the sale.

The purpose of annexation

Another test is to differentiate between a fixture and fitting is why an item is in the property – is it for the enjoyment and convenience of the owner, or for the general use of the land or building? Tapestries in Leigh and Taylor (1902) were determined fixtures and had to be left at the property, because they were for the benefit and decoration of the property, rather than just for the owner.


Fixtures are part of the land and are chargeable for SDLT purposes, whereas chattels are not. Where the purchase price of the property includes an amount attributed to chattels, that amount may not be charged to SDLT, provided that the attribution is just and reasonable. Chattels should be priced at the second-hand-value, bearing in mind the age, quality and condition of each item, i.e. HMRC would not allow £10,000 to be attributed to chattels for a dining table, whereas, £500 for white goods would likely be acceptable.


Today’s reality

Whether an item should be left or taken on a sale used to cause problems between Sellers and Buyers, but in today’s reality, the Conveyancing Protocol allows us to avoid debates by asking the Seller to complete a “Fittings and Contents” form, which lists the main items that may be in a residential property, and asks the Seller to confirm whether these items will be included in or excluded from the sale, and also allows them to state an additional price for perhaps more valuable items. Therefore, if you want to take your spinning looms with you when you move, you just have to say so!