Laura not Laura has a claim against Steven

Laura has purchased a new property from Steven
and was disappointed to find some items were missing upon moving in. Whether or
not Laura has a claim against Steven is based on if the items in the property
are to be deemed as “Fixtures or Fittings (Chattel)”. Does Laura have rightful
ownership of whatever was part of the property Purchased?  Before purchasing the property, Laura was
under the impression that all the contents of the property would remain the
same, However, there are different opinions to this point of view. Laura may
have a claim against Steven regarding the purchase of her property and what was
meant to be included upon purchase. Laura’s initial response to her new
purchase was that there were some items that are missing from the property.

 

Laura has purchased the AshGreen Manor from
Steven, making her the legal owner to the property. We must first identify the
relevant facts of the case, as to what can be regarded as property of the current
land owner (Laura) and what is the property of the previous owner (Steven). The
items in question are a sundial which has been removed from the property, the
wooden shed from the garden, which has been destroyed. Also, a Mural painting
that had been painted by a famous artist, Turnsborough, which has been replaced by breeze bricks. This case
demonstrates the idea of fixtures and fittings (chattels). “Fittings, which are also known as Chattels are
items that are personal property. It is a principle of land law that any chattels attached to land, become part
of the land and are known as fixtures
(where it becomes part of the land).”

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The Law
of Property Act (1925) is relevant in addressing
this case. It mentions that when a piece of land is transferred to an owner via
conveyancing; it will include all the fixtures that come with the land. However,
when something is a fitting (chattel) it can be difficult to distinguish
whether it will come as part of the land. This idea has been translated into
case law such as the case of Botham V TSB
plc (1997) 73p & CRD1.

 

What Steven has done in terms of him removing
all those items in the property is similar to the case of Botham V TSB plc (1997) 73p & CRD1, where Botham removed all
the items before the bank could take any of them away. The Judge’s decision was
that the kitchen, Bath and toilets were fittings. Curtains, lights, ornaments
and appliances (such as dishwashers and washing machines) were chattels. Judge
Rosh stated that a room wouldn’t be regarding as a kitchen without the units.
The fixtures of the units are what create the purpose of the room. Judge Rosh
set out indicators when deciding on whether an item could be removed without
damaging a property, and whether it was a free-standing item or was a part of
the building.

 

The sundial that was present at the Ash green
property served its purpose of telling the time. However, upon removing it, it
no longer has that that function. The sundial is a chattel as it was removed from
the property without causing and damage to the building. It may be viewed as a
personal item of Steven’s.

 

Lord Blackburn’s statement of the degree of
annexation and purpose of annexation supports the idea of having a meaning
behind a fixture/fitting. This has been set out in case
law, specifically that of Holland
v Hodgson (1972) LR 7 CP 328 – Where lord justice Blackburn said that there
are two tests. One is the degree and two is the object test (purpose). The idea
is about why an object is there in the space that it is present, and if it will
increase the value of the land.  Then you
would look at if they are a fixture or fittings (Chattel) & then you must
look at the purpose of the object. 

 

The wooden shed at AshGreen manor could be a “part”
of the land, because once it is removed, it causes damage to the land on which
it was originally situated. It is a fixture. This issue case can be
corresponded with a later case known as, Elitestone
and Morris (1997)– The occupants of a bungalow as tenants. Lord Justice
Lloyd went through the case. He stated that he found the definition of fixtures
and fittings confusing in the context of a building or house. He mentioned the
two tests as a “Part and Parcel”. The case supports the idea of “degree of
annexation”.

The missing Mural Painting that had been
replaced by bricks is also to be regarded as a fixture and not a chattel as it
became a part of the property’s value. Laura expected the mural to be there
upon purchasing the property. However, to her demise it had been removed and
replaced. The mural Painted by the famous artist that was inside the AshGreen
Manor can be related to the case of The
Creative Foundation v. Dreamland Leisure 2015 EWHC 2556 (Ch)– The creative foundation made a claim over dreamland
leisure LTD for a famous Banksy painting. The tenant dreamland Leisure removed
the Banksy Painting once the tenancy agreement had ended without the permission
of the landlord. If you can remove something without damaging the land it then
becomes a chattel. However, in this case it caused damage to the property and
therefore would be regarded as a fitting, as mentioned by Lord Blackburn’s 2
points; “1) the degree of annexation and 2) the purpose of annexation.”  Therefore, the Mural at the AshGreen manor can
be regarded as a fixture at the property.

 

 It is especially important that
we can properly distinguish the idea of what makes a fixture and what makes a
chattel; when there is a transfer in ownership of the property. Any items that
are fixtures will inadvertently belong
to the transferee. (i.e. in the case of Laura, any fixtures of Ash Green will
be transferred to her).  If the land is
sold, then the ownership of the fixtures
will be transferred to the new land owner, as soon as the contract of the sale
has become binding (via conveyancing). Once the sale has become binding, the
seller will no longer be legally allowed to remove these items from the
property.

 

Steven is in the wrong for not informing Laura
on the status of what was happening with the property and what was changed. I
believe that Laura had a right to create a claim against Steven, as the Wooden
Shed was supposed to be present at the property, as it was in fact a fixture
(caused a change to the land it was situated on). Also, the Famous mural
painting on the wall inside the property added value to the property, as it was
physically connected; Therefore, it should not have been removed and replaced
with bricks, Steven had no legal authorization to remove the shed and the
famous mural painting as the sale contract had already become binding. He was essentially
in the wrong for not informing Laura of the changes as she had become the
rightful freehold owner of the property. Laura,
can make a claim against Steven on the basis that the wooden shed, as well as
the mural painted by the famous artist gone were in fact under her ownership.
The Sundial, however, may be regarded as personal property of Steven, and
therefore it would probably be classed as a chattel.

     

 

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