What are considered fixtures and fittings in Scotland?
Understanding Scottish Standard Clauses and fixtures and fittings in Scotland
Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your new home, your solicitor will proceed with the next phase of the purchase. Part of this process is to confirm what fixtures and fittings are being left in the property and to ensure they are in reasonable working condition, commensurate with age.
Here we explain what fixtures and fittings are and what is required by Scottish law.
What are Scottish Standard Clauses?
The majority of Scottish solicitors will use what is known as Scottish Standard Clauses. These standardise the terminology and paperwork for residential conveyancing transactions, and form the basis of the contract in a purchase or sale, helping the process to run smoothly and efficiently.
During the property purchasing process in Scotland, an inventory of the contents included within the property isn’t required as it is during the process in England. Instead, Clause 1 of the Scottish Standard Clauses highlights all fixtures, fitting, and other contents that are included in the purchase and should legally be left in the property for the new owners.
Clause 1.1.3 of the Scottish Standard Clauses explains that:
“The Property is sold with all items of whatever nature fixed or fitted to the Property the removal of which would materially damage the fabric or decoration of the Property.”
In simple terms, if you need a screwdriver to remove an item, it should remain in the property. This includes items such as integrated white goods and appliances, light fittings, smart thermostats and much more.
There are of course other items that can be included in the sale or items that can be excluded, however, it is up to the buyers and seller to agree on these items as part of their contract.
Updates to the Scottish Standard Clauses
The Scottish Property Committee meets annually to review the items that are considered a fixture and fitting in a property purchase. This list is regularly updated to ensure it is relevant to modern-day homes. For example, recent additions include networked smoke alarms and electric car chargers.
The full terms are as follows:
1.1 The Property is sold with:
1.1.1 all heritable fittings and fixtures;
1.1.2 all items of whatever nature fixed or fitted to the Property the removal of which would materially damage the fabric or decoration of the Property;
1.1.3 all items stated to be included in the sales particulars or advertisements made available to the Purchaser;
1.1.4 the following insofar as any were in or pertained to the Property when viewed by the Purchaser: garden shed or hut, greenhouse, summerhouse; all growing plants, shrubs, trees (except those in plant pots); artificial grass; all types of blinds, pelmets, curtain rails and runners, curtain poles and rings thereon; all carpets and floor coverings (but excluding loose rugs), stair carpet fixings; fitted bedroom furniture; all fixed bathroom and cloakroom mirrors, bathroom and toilet fittings; kitchen units; all cookers, hobs, ovens, washing machines, dishwashers, fridges and freezers if integral to or encased within matching units; extractor hoods, extractor fans, electric storage heaters, electric fires, electric light fittings (including all fluorescent lighting, external lighting, wall lights, dimmer switches and bulbs and bulb holders but not shades); television aerials and associated cables and sockets, satellite dishes; loft ladders; rotary clothes driers; burglar alarm, other security systems and associated equipment; secondary glazing; fixed shelving; fireplace surround units, fire grates, fenders and associated ironmongery; brackets or similar fittings for any wall mounted television (but not the television itself); smart thermostats or similar devices providing a heating control system; integrated sound systems including fitted speakers and wiring (but excluding any amplifier); and electric car charging points;
1.1.5 oil in any storage tank and gas in any gas cylinders or tank remaining at the Date of Settlement.
1.2 Where a wheeled bin or other receptacle for the collection of refuse is provided free of charge by the Local Authority or other body responsible for the collection of refuse, the Seller will ensure that the said bin or receptacle is left at the Property for the Purchaser failing which the Seller will meet the cost of replacing same.
1.3 The Seller warrants that at the Date of Settlement all items included in the Price are owned by the Seller, are or will be free of all debt, and are not the subject of any litigation.
1.4 The Seller undertakes to remove all moveables from the Property not otherwise included in the Price as at the Date of Settlement.
Negotiating additional items in a house sale
Buyers and sellers may want to agree upon a number of additional items that would not normally be expected to be left in a property or form part of a sale.
Examples could include, a freestanding bookcase that conveniently fits into a specific alcove in the property, or a range cooker that is incorporated into a kitchen island. Neither of these are technically fixtures and fittings (so do not fall under the Scottish Standard Clauses) as they are not attached to the property. However, it may make sense to agree to them being left - particularly if the vendor knows that they will have no use for them in their new home and their removal would be inconvenient for the buyer.
In these scenarios, the buyers and sellers are able to:
agree to them being left as part of the sale price
agree to a reasonable increase in the total sale price of the property, or
agree to an additional price for these items which does not add to the sale price itself and that is settled separately.
It’s important to include your solicitors in these negotiations to ensure an appropriate contract is put in place between both parties. Costs for these additional items must be realistic and not for the purposes of lowering the sale price and therefore tax avoidance.
What can you do if things are not left as you expect?
While the Scottish Standard Clauses highlight what should be left in a property that doesn’t mean they always are!
What can a buyer do if the oven isn’t functional? What if the buyer finds unexpected items in the property or worse, piles of rubbish? What if the buyer moves in to find items have been removed from the property that should have remained?
Buyers typically only get a small window of time to look around a property - there’s very little opportunity to check whether the oven is in working order, or check utilities are connected. It’s up to the sellers to highlight any issues before the sale takes place.
If, for example, a buyer moves in to find the oven door doesn’t close properly, rendering it dangerous and unusable, they have 5 working days to highlight such issues to their solicitor. Their solicitor will then raise the problem with the seller's solicitor and agree on how to replace the faulty items or suitable compensation.
In some scenarios, an item might be faulty but still functional. For example, one ring on a four-burner hob might be damaged. This should have been highlighted before the sale was completed so both parties could reach an agreement on how to progress. It’s common for the sale price to be altered downwards slightly to reflect the faulty items. Communication is key, and it's important the seller advises the buyer of any items that aren't fully functional, rather than the buyer fighting out for the first time at entry. The seller can simply remove any warranty on the item prior to the contract of sale being binding. However, if it was not raised by the seller, the same 5 working day rule applies to report the item and its fault to the solicitor who will raise the matter with the other party.
If a buyer arrives to find the previous owners have left rubbish in the property, or worse a broken sofa or an old mattress, what can they do? Such unwanted items shouldn't be left. The sooner the issue is intimated to the seller, the sooner it can be resolved. If the item or items aren’t removed within a reasonable period, the new owner can pass the costs for their disposal on to the sellers. Photographic evidence is helpful here and all receipts and invoices should be retained. All negotiations should be undertaken via solicitors to ensure the buyer stays on the right side of the law.
The Scottish Standard Clause system for fixtures and fittings is much clearer than the English TA10 form and in most cases, creates a fairly seamless handover of a property. However, in the instances when things don’t quite go to plan, it’s useful to know the mechanisms for resolving the situation: in short, keep your solicitor involved from the outset and throughout.
If you have any queries about the conveyancing process or want to instruct a solicitor in the purchase and/or sale of a property, get in touch with our expert property and conveyancing solicitors today.