One of the ways to remember the difference between personal property and real property is that personal property goes with the person and real property goes with the real estate.
A fixture is personal property that becomes real property, meaning that it was something that once went with the person but for reasons of its association with the property now goes with the real estate being sold.
A classic example of a fixture would be a chandelier, as it is an item that was movable but now is attached to the property. Other examples could be a sink or a toilet.
To remember this, remember the name MARIA. (Can anybody say that name without singing the song by Blondie?)
1. Method of attachment. Is the item permanently affixed to the wall, ceiling, or flooring by using nails, glue, cement, pipes, or screws? Even if you can easily remove it, the method used to attach it might make it a fixture. For example, ceiling lights, although attached by wires that can be removed, are a fixture.
2. Adaptability. If the item becomes an integral part of the home, it cannot be removed. For example, a pool covering is a fixture because that cover goes with that pool, even though it can be easily folded up and put away.
3. Relationship of the parties. If the dispute is between buyer and seller, the buyer is likely to prevail. If the dispute is between tenant and landlord, the tenant is likely to win. This comes up regarding emblements—crops being grown on land that is being rented.
4. Intention of party when the item was attached. When the installation took place, if the intent was to make the item a permanent attachment, the item is a fixture.
5. Agreement between the parties. Read your purchase contract. Most contain a clause that expressly defines items included in the sale, and ordinarily state, "All existing fixtures and fittings that are attached to the property." And remember, what two people agree upon trumps the other rules of a fixture.
The most important thing to take from this is that when they ask you about a fixture on your exam, please remember the acronym MARIA.
A trade fixture is a piece of equipment on or attached to the real estate that is used in a trade or business. Trade fixtures differ from other fixtures in that they may be removed from the real estate (making it personal property, even if attached) at the end of the tenancy of the business, while ordinary fixtures attached to the real estate become part of the real estate. The business tenant must compensate the owner for any damages due to the removal of trade fixtures or repair such damage. It is important that you remember trade fixtures remain the tenant's property—hence they are personal property.
An example of this is a display case used by a clothing store, or a dentist's chair. The dentist's chair would be a trade fixture, as the chair is being used for the dentist's business. Even though it is attached to the property, the dentist will take that chair with him or her when he or she moves to a different location.