2.1.3 Fixtures and Chattels Lecture – Hands on Example
The following questions are designed to test your knowledge about the core tests regarding fixtures and chattels. The answers to the questions can be found at the bottom of the page, however you are encouraged to attempt to answer the questions first based on your own recall or notes of the topic before looking at the answers.
Always think about the relevant principles, the cases, and what the outcome will be based on how those principles and cases apply to the question.
One of the first challenges in an exam is to recognise that the question you’re being asked is about fixtures and chattels. So by applying this step-by-step approach, you should be able to tell if it is a fixtures and chattels question.
As a quick aide-memoire, you will be on the right track if you remember the following steps:
- What is the item in question?
2.Applying the first part of the two-stage test, is it something that has been fixed to the land by use of some other object(s), such as being bolted down? Has work been done to the surrounding land in order to accommodate the object? If the answer to these questions is yes, there is a greater degree of annexation, suggesting it is a fixture.
3.Alternatively, is the item simply sitting on the land by gravity alone, meaning there is nothing attaching it to the land? Could it be removed without damaging it or the land? If the answers to these questions is yes, there is a lesser degree of annexation, pointing towards chattel.
4.Now look to the purpose of the item. Looking again at the kind of item that it is (examples include statues, kitchen appliances, stuffed animal displays, air conditioning equipment, greenhouses), is it intended to either:
a.Improve the value of the land, or
b.Simply be enjoyed by itself?
5.When answering question 4, ask if these factors outweigh the degree of annexation.
6.Finally, when you have decided if it is a chattel, remember who it therefore belongs to.
Q1. Albert has long lived at Blacklodge, but is now moving home. He wants to keep a sofa that he had bought some time ago, and had kept in the living room to enjoy the view outside his window. He never thought to nail it down. However, the buyer has indicated an interest in the sofa at their offer of purchase. It is of relatively high quality and the buyer thinks it could add value to the place.
Q2. Bethany is a tenant of Conglomerate Corporation which owns the freehold to Whitelodge. She has become interested in pottery as a trade and has installed equipment for that purpose. Bethany is not staying long at Whitelodge, and Conglomerate Corporation indicates it wishes to retain the pottery equipment after she leaves. Conglomerate says it included a clause in the lease which prevents her from removing anything that may be used for pottery. Conglomerate agrees that the wording of the clause is unclear.
Q3. Darren has a collection of expensive family portraits at Greenacre. They are placed strategically throughout Greenacre. They have to be fully extended to be seen and so are pinned to the wall. Darren now wants to take the family portraits with him when he moves. The buyers of Greenacre want to keep the valuable portraits which are of historical as well as personal value.
Q4. Ella is a keen gardener, selling whatever she grows, and recently installed a greenhouse at Redacre. When first installed, it sat on a concrete plinth, the plinth resting on a base, and that base in turn sits on the ground. Due to its manner of installation however the concrete plinth had to later be affixed to the base. Removing the greenhouse from the base could cause damage to both. Falling behind on her mortgage payments, the lender may repossess Redacre, and has taken an interest in the greenhouse.
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