It was my first ever settlement. It was the first conveyance I ever undertook and I was pretty excited! I opened a bottle of red and sat down to tell my loved ones why I was the best conveyancer in the world.

A call came from the purchaser I was representing. I answered the phone excitedly with the expectation of thanks and applause for the wonderful job I did. The purchaser’s tone was not one of joy, but one of credulity.

“They have stolen my letterbox,” she screamed at me.

“That’s unfortunate! I’ll buy you a new one,” I responded.

“It was a stonemason letterbox worth $2000,” she stated loudly.

“Maybe I won’t buy you a new letterbox,” I noted.

It suddenly became apparent to me that the stolen letterbox was not such a funny scenario. Our client had purchased the house with a stonemason letterbox out the front. It was handcrafted sandstone and figured like a statue in the front garden.

The law is one of nuances. If something is a fixture, it stays. If it is a fitting, unless the contract specifically provides for it, the vendor can take it away. A fixture is something attached to the structure, which cannot be removed without structural alteration. A fitting is the opposite; it is one that can be taken from the property without making structural change. The stonemason letterbox was simply removed with a forklift onto a truck. It was clearly a fitting.

“Why didn’t you stop them from taking it away?” she pleaded.

“Because I didn’t know it was there,” I noted.

The solicitor or conveyancer never gets to see the building. The only professional who ever sees the property is the real estate agent. The solicitors and licensed conveyancers rely on their purchasers to tell them what is in the property.

On the front cover of the contract, there is a section for inclusions. If there is something special which needs to stay, this must be noted on the front cover to protect you as a purchaser.

Three tips:

  1. When viewing the property, take note of the things you wish to remain behind so you can tell your solicitor;
  2. Make certain you tell your solicitor of these items so they can be inserted on the front cover of the contract; and
  3. Undertake a final inspection to ensure that they are still there after the vendor has moved out.

It is your property and your purchase. Take care of it!

 

This article was written by Bailey Compton, Principal Solicitor & Director at Leverage Group.

To get in touch with Bailey, please email info@leveragegroup.com.au or call 1300 438 538