When viewing a house, potential buyers are likely to have their eyes drawn to different fixtures and fittings that they’d either love to keep in place and/or wouldn’t dream of even thinking about having in their home.
As the sale progresses, both buyers and sellers need to take proper account of these items – or chattels, to give them their legal name – and how they are to be managed, as failing to do so risks problems arising further down the line.
Depending on their individual circumstances, homebuyers will have different views about whether they want to keep things like furniture, carpets, curtains, white goods, fitted kitchen units and even potted trees and shrubs in the garden.
For first-time buyers who might not have that much furniture yet, these items can be very useful, while a seller who has, for example, inherited the property from a deceased relative may be pleased to help a first-time buyer or a family by agreeing to leave some items, rather than having to do all the work required to remove them.
As part of the sale process, a seller needs to complete a TA10 form, which is otherwise known as a Fixtures and Contents Form.
This is a mandatory, ‘tick box’ document which clearly identifies what is and what is not included in the sale of a property, so that there can be no dispute between buyer and seller about any items left or taken after the sale has been completed.
If a seller is looking to sell any chattels, a price can be noted on the form against each item that is to be left, if they are not to be included in the overall purchase price.
The purchase price for any chattels being sold must be ‘fair and reasonable’ and must reflect their true value as they will be excluded from the Stamp Duty Land Tax calculation.
With HMRC being entitled to investigate all property transactions for nine months after the sale, any attempt to deceive by purposefully reducing the purchase price could have serious consequences.
The TA10 form also provides the basis for legal action should either party not live up to what it requires of them.
For example, a seller will be in breach of contract if they take items that were listed as being included on the form or fail to remove items that should have been taken, such as a loft or garage full of rubbish.
It is, of course, possible that overzealous removal men could have mistakenly take items that should have been left behind, so it’s always best to check with the seller first if something is missing, just to make sure that it’s not an innocent mistake.
However, with around one in ten property transactions resulting in some sort of dispute about fixtures and fittings, it’s essential that you have everything in order before the sale completes.
As a sidenote, it’s essential that you don’t exchange money for fixtures and fittings separately directly with your seller or buyer and not include the payment in the contract as this takes away any recourse for breach of contract action should issues subsequently arise.
Whether you’re buying or selling, make sure to ask lots of detailed questions to the other party about everything to do with a property’s fixtures and fittings, and ensure that you get qualified expert advice if you any doubts or questions about any aspect of the process.
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