Be sure to specify property fixtures in a sale

Many disagreements between buyers and sellers of immovable property come about because of a misunderstanding as to what fixtures sellers may remove when vacating the property – and which have to remain.

Barry Fourie, national training manager for the Rawson Property Group, says that sellers and buyers need to clarify the difference between permanent and non-permanent fixtures.

“Although quite frequently certain sellers break this rule, it is widely accepted and, in fact, stipulated in South African law that all permanent fixtures are included in the sale of a property and may not be removed by the seller. Any exceptions to this rule have to be put in writing.

“It is advisable to list the permanent fixtures sellers intend to leave behind and those few – for example, a valuable teak door or a historic fitted cast iron stove – which they intend to take with them.

“If the removal of a permanent fixture results in some part of the remaining structure being damaged (as it usually does), it must be provided for in the contract that the repairs have to be done at the sellers’ expense before transfer.”

In certain sales, says Fourie, it will suit sellers to include a number of movable, non-permanent items in the sale, if they no longer need them or they are moving to a home too small to accommodate them. The agreement to do this has, on occasions, also led to arguments, especially where several items are concerned.

“The golden rule therefore,” says Fourie, “even though it may be fairly tedious, is to leave nothing open to doubt or misinterpretation and record all permanent fixtures included or excluded from the sale in the contract, as well as any movable items the sellers will leave behind.”

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