Can the seller remove fixtures?

You’ve bought a property, waited for bond approval, signed all the documents, and now the date of occupation has arrived. The estate agent hands over the keys and you’re ready to move in.

Of course, the property will look quite different to what you saw on show day. Once the furniture is gone, it usually does look rather appalling. You’re mentally prepared for that. But not for the missing water fountain in the garden, the empty space where the built-in shelves should be, and the glaringly absent awning over the carport.

These are fixtures you say, and they shouldn’t have been removed. And you’re probably right. But whether a seller can remove fixtures after the sales agreement has been signed depends on the terms of the agreement and the legal definition of what constitutes a fixture.

So what is a fixture? A fixture is a physical object that is permanently attached to the property and is considered part of the real estate. That means everything that’s built-in, bolted-on or otherwise attached, belongs to the property. Usually, these items are regarded as fixtures:

  • Alarm systems
  • Bathroom mirrors
  • Blinds
  • Built-in furniture
  • Ceiling fans
  • Curtain rails
  • Fitted carpets
  • Irrigation systems
  • Keys and remotes
  • Light fittings
  • Security cameras
  • Water fountains

Of course, the seller may have a garden shed or built-in bar that he wants to use at his next property. To avoid any misunderstanding and the unnecessary aggravation of having to resolve disputes down the road, rather list in the sales agreement the items that you agree will remain and those that the seller wants to remove.

Bottom line, a seller can only remove fixtures listed in the sales agreement.