Comment: Why fighting over fixtures and fittings isn’t worth the stress

Does it stay or does it go? Fixtures and fittings issues can cause conflict

Does it stay or does it go? Fixtures and fittings issues can cause conflict - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

For most of us, buying and selling property is a huge deal, both financially and emotionally.

With so much invested in all going well, it’s no surprise that the experience brings out the worst in many of us – meaning that once the big issues have been ironed out, the small matter of which fixtures and fittings stay or go can present an irresistible opportunity for pettiness - as discussed in this week’s Expert View.

The Nottingham Estate Agency and Harrison Murray Estate Agency (both part of the Nottingham Building Society) sensibly suggest that we navigate the fixtures and fittings minefield with a bit of good old common sense. Like, do you even need that curtain rail? Or are you determined to take it because your buyers have been quite irritating? Keeping things friendly is to be advised, though won’t always be easy to achieve.

After all, when your buyers spent days doggedly knocking tiny amounts off your asking price, you may not feel inclined to gift them even the teeniest of curtain rails – even if it won’t fit any of the windows at the new place. Su Snaith, Head of Estate Agency at the Nottingham, explains that the issue can be “very contentious, particularly as there is no law that outlines what should be left in or removed from the house once it has been sold.

“Legally, the seller isn’t obliged to leave any fixtures or fittings - and some have been known to unscrew all the light bulbs and even dig up plants from the garden prior to their departure.”

When my old next-door neighbours moved out, they took the knobs from the kitchen units with them. This was no stressful sale with a last bit of bad feeling designed to make a point either – they were just tight.

I’ll be following Su’s advice next time I move, drawing up an inventory of what’s staying and what’s going.

After all, no one really wants this sort of thing to turn nasty – the fate that befell an old friend, who ended up in court when a dispute over fixtures and fittings went bad, and her buyers basically shafted her out of a few thousand pounds worth of goods they claimed she’d promised them. She lost, though the moral high ground was hers for the keeping. You can’t buy much with that, though.