Chattels and Improvements

How can you tell what will be included in your purchase
When purchasing property the general rule is that the ownership of chattels will not transfer with the land unless specifically noted in the agreement for sale and purchase. The ownership of improvements, on the other hand, will usually transfer unless the agreement stipulates otherwise.

But what is the difference between a chattel and an improvement? Is there any way I can determine whether that tasteful chandelier, fashioned out of beer bottles, nailed to the roof in the former student flat I seek to purchase will become mine on settlement?

Thankfully, yes. The law generously provides us with a test which takes into account the following two factors:
a) The purpose of annexation of the object – was the item intended to become part of the property and improve its worth; and
b) The degree of annexation of the object – can the item be removed without causing injury to the premises.

Although our beer bottle example appears to fall rather more into the improvement camp after the application of this test (due more to its nails, rather than its value), the assessment is not always so simple. For example how would one classify a glasshouse merely resting temporarily on a property? Or an unfixed above ground swimming pool surrounded by a deck?
Determining whether an object would be considered a chattel or an improvement is often not clear cut, and a vendor and purchaser may arrive at different conclusions. For the avoidance of doubt, it is best to make sure that any potentially contentious items that you expect to be included in the purchase of land are specifically listed in the agreement for sale and purchase. Talk with the team at Hayman Lawyers before you sign, and we will make sure you get what you expect come settlement day.