They say that moving home is a stressful time so doing all you can to minimise any anxiety surely must be a good thing. Some say that it can even be more stressful than getting divorced. If you’ve had a good clearout, thrown away all your surplus junk and are gearing up for a house move and you’re thinking of taking your fitted window blinds with you, you should consider whether or not your buyer has automatically assumed that you’re going to leave them behind.
Similarly, if the property you’re moving into had sumptuous fitted blinds that you immediately fell in love with when you viewed the property, will you be in for a nasty surprise when you turn the key and open the door to your new home only to find that, like the vendor, they’ve also found a new home?
Free-standing vs fixed
If you want to avoid the potential shock of being confronted with only bare windows when you arrive at your new property on moving day, it’s worth agreeing with the seller in advance exactly what they intend to leave behind. It’s not uncommon for there to be disputes of this nature when people are moving home – and if the whole process of moving wasn’t stressful enough, dealing with unforeseen dilemmas like this will only add to your stress levels.
Although there doesn’t appear to be a clear cut, specific definition of exactly what constitutes a fixture or a fitting, the broad definition goes something like this:
If it’s free-standing and not securely attached to the property, it’s most likely a ‘fitting’. Examples of this could include everyday items such as washing machines, fridge-freezers, sofas etc. If it’s secured by way of bolts, nails or screws, it could fall into the category of a ‘fixture’. This can be things like kitchen units, sinks, boilers, radiators and so on. Bear in mind that this is not a hard and fast rule but more of a general guide.
There are, of course, some items that may leave you scratching your head whilst pondering which category they fit into, even despite trying to apply the above logic. Window blinds are a good example of this particular grey-area scenario; they could be viewed similarly to a pair of curtains in terms of functionality, but curtains can usually be easily removed by simply pulling off the end of the curtain pole. However, much like the curtain poles that the drapes hang on, fitted window blinds will often be secured by screws (unless they’re Intu or Perfect Fit). As such, you’re probably still wondering if they’re classed as a fixture or fitting.
This grey area is further compounded when you consider other items that may require hand tools in order to be removed, such as a framed painting that’s attached to the wall with a couple of screws, a small shelf unit or a wall bracket for a large flat-screen television. As if all of these head-scratching decisions aren’t enough to frazzle your brain, coping with all the other logistical tasks of moving can be enough to really finish you off. For example, you’ll also have the unenviable task of having to deal with a myriad of other practical matters regarding moving home such as getting items out of self-storage, dealing with your removal company, solicitor, estate agent, changing your driving licence, redirecting your bills… Arrgh! The list is almost endless! In other words, the last thing you really want to be dealing with on top of all this is a legal grey area over something as simple as window blinds.
Avoid the confusion
If all this has left you more confused than when you began reading this, you’re not alone. It’s a naturally confusing area that can raise all kinds of “is it or isn’t it?” type questions that will only lead to more confusion, particularly when it comes to items such as window blinds.
Fortunately, help is at hand; those legal bods at the Law Society have a practical sample template that you can download in order to help clear the fog from your mind. If you’re in the process of buying or selling, make sure the conveyancing solicitor for the home that’s being sold provides both parties with this “TA10” Fittings and Content form. Once completed, the form allows all concerned to see exactly what’s staying and what’s going – including window blinds! This obviously works both ways; if you’re buying a house then, unless you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll most likely be selling one too.
So, there you have it. Don’t automatically assume that when you’re buying a house, just because they’re fitted, the seller will leave them behind. They may be moving into a similar property with the same sized windows and decide to take them with them. Do your homework first and get things like this agreed and resolved in advance.
If you are moving to a new property and have found that your lovely new home will not have any window coverings be sure to give us a call. We’ll be happy to measure up for you and help you decide on some perfect new window blinds from our extensive range.