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Archive for September, 2011

Chattel or fixture?

In July 2011, we looked at the Court of Appeal case Ibrend Estates v NYK Logistics, a 2011 decision which gave excellent judicial guidance on the meaning of ‘vacant possession’ i.e. in essence, empty of people and substantially empty of chattels.

Chattels are personal, moveable items for instance, furniture.  They are not affixed to the property in which they stand and it is important to distinguish between a chattel and a fixture.  Joyce J considered the difference over a hundred years ago in  Lyon v London City & Midland Bank [1903] 2 KB 135 and his words echo down to us today:

“No doubt a chattel on being attached to the soil or to a building prima facie becomes a fixture, but the presumption may be rebutted by showing that the annexation is incomplete, so that the chattel can be easily removed without injury to itself or to the premises to which it is attached, and that the annexation is merely for a temporary purpose and for the more complete enjoyment and use of the chattel as a chattel.”

When yielding up or giving vacant possession of premises, one must identify the ownership of fixtures.  A tenant may, for instance, install trade fixtures which, whilst attached to the property, it will remove at the the lease end.  However, the degree of annexation may be so complete that the fixture becomes part of the very fabric of the premises and fall within the ownership of the landlord.  Of course, a tenant may, in such circumstances, be required to remove its alterations to the demised premises at the lease end but it all depends on the wording of the specific lease.  Read it with care.  Whilst a tenant can remove its own fixtures, it cannot remove those of the landlord unless the lease states otherwise.

If you wish to hear move, do contact Hatherleigh Training.  We would be pleased to assist.