When a home is sold, there are all too often issues, arguments and sometimes even court cases about the fixtures and fittings – which form part of the sale and which the owner is allowed to take away with him.
In South African law, says Clarke, anything which is a permanent and integral part of a property is assumed to be a ‘fixture’ and to be included in the sale.
A good estate agent, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, will ensure that this does not happen – but, regrettably, he says, a small minority of estate agents are still unaware of their duties in this respect.
Most arguments relating to these issues, says Clarke, arise from those involved in the sale, not knowing the law and/or not specifying which items the seller plans to exclude from the deal.
In South African law, says Clarke, anything which is a permanent and integral part of a property is assumed to be a ‘fixture’ and to be included in the sale. "Doors (along with the keys), windows, blinds and awnings, built-in cupboards, wall-to-wall carpets, kitchen and bar counters (and their seats), as well as plants in the garden are all automatically part of the sale."
However, he says the seller does have the right to specify in the sale document that certain items will be excluded, just as he has the right, if the furniture is part of the sale, to exclude certain specified and pre-named items.
Light fittings, too, says Clarke, are generally considered to be included in the sale, but special lights, such as glass or brass chandeliers, are regularly excluded. This is also legal, he says, provided that their removal from the property is written into the sale document.
He says difficulties can arise where equipment is concerned. For example, a freezer or washing machine might or might not be included in the sale. Similarly, pool filters or certain garden tools, as well as burglar alarms might be excluded from the sale.
It is, therefore, he says, wise to assume nothing and to specify item-by-item and every piece of equipment and all major fixtures that the buyer will be taking over.
"If these matters can be sorted out at the outset and written into the document, there should be no reason why the sale should not go through smoothly."