Land Law- Introduction, Fixtures and Chattels

What is Land?

The definition of Land is found in section 205(1)(ix) of the Law of property act 1925. The LPA was one of the most influential bits of legislation in UK land law and therefore will be referred to as the LPA.

This section of the LPA hold definitions of a lot of the terms referred to in land law. The definition of Land is defined as:

“Land” includes land of any tenure, and mines and minerals, whether or not held apart from the surface, buildings or parts of buildings (whether the division is horizontal, vertical or made in any other way) and other corporeal hereditaments; also a manor, an advowson, and a rent and other incorporeal hereditaments, and an easement, right, privilege, or benefit in, over, or derived from land; F3. . . and “mines and minerals” include any strata or seam of minerals or substances in or under any land, and powers of working and getting the same F3. . .; and “manor” includes a lordship, and reputed manor or lordship; and “hereditament” means any real property which on an intestacy occurring before the commencement of this Act might have devolved upon an heir;”

This is full of very complicated and out of date words, however is essentially not very important in the grad scheme of things. What can be taken from this is that all assets on the land and therefore firmly affixed to the land will therefore become part of the land.


Fixture and Chattels

The problem comes when a sale of property goes through, and the seller takes something that they the other party deems shouldn’t have been taken.

In the vast majority of cases this does not happen. In the conveyance, and the transfer of the house, the seller must fill out a Fixtures and Fittings form, in which they will list everything in the room and state whether they will take it or not. Because this is a contract, everything that is stated in this list, the seller will be able to take regardless of its classification.

The problem occurs when the conveyance is silent, and there is dispute over whether the seller should have taken the object.

The general presumption is that anything fixed to the land (A fixture) will be part of the land and should not be removed, and anything that is movable and not attached to the land is a chattel and can be taken.

The test for deciding whether an object is a fixture or a chattel is Berkley V Poulett where two tests were established:

  • Method and degree of Annexation (which looks at the way in which the object was annexed to the land and the degree in which is it fixed. The greater risk of the item being damaged on removal, the greater chance of it being a fixture).
  • Object and Purpose of Annexation, which is a conclusive presumption (this test looks at the type of object it was and what the purpose of fixing it to the land was).

The case of Dynecourt v McGregor further defines the second test and says that if an object was fixed to the land to further advance the architectural design of the property, it will be a fixture.

However the case of Leigh V Taylor states that if a chattel was fixed to the land to for it to be further be enjoyed as a chattel, it will remain a chattel even if it is firmly affixed.

Further case law includes the case of Elitestone V Morris which states that a house which was not made to be movable is a fixture. Only homes that are specifically designed to be movable will be chattels, for example mobile homes and caravans.

As well as the case of Botham V TSB Bank, which states that carpets, curtains, any appliance only affixed by a pipe, light fittings are all chattels, but kitchen units were classed as fixtures.


Legal Estates in Land

There are two types of legal estates in land, A freehold and a Leasehold (section 1.1 LPA)

A freehold is defined as an estate in fee simple absolute in possession.

A Leasehold is defined as a Term of years absolute.

A freehold will hold the rights to the property for the rest of time, however the leasehold will hold the rights to the estate for a fixed period of time, or for a periodic term in a periodic tenancy.

In order to be able to conveyable land to another, essentially sell their land, they must prove that there was a good rout in title. This means that they must provide deeds to the land for the previous 15 years. This is stated in section 44 of the LPA.

However, this has been updated and a registered system was adopted. This means that this rout of title will all be presented on the Land Register. This is run my HM Land Registry. The law that come in the repeal section 44 of the LPA was the Land Registration act 2002- known as the LRA.

This means that when a property is dealt with, if it is unregistered, it will trigger first registration. It will be a legal requirement for it to be registered within 3 months of this dealing.

However, land that has not been dealt with for a long period of time, such a government buildings, schools ect, which have not needed to change hands in a long time will remain unregistered, therefore proving a good rout of title for some properties are still relevant. The land register is open to the public and is computerised.

To prove a good rout of title under the registered system will require the buyer to have an official copy of the register to the property.


Legislation copied from:

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