DOCTRINE OF FIXTURES- EXPLAINED
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Author: D. Ramki, III year The Central Law College, Salem
A fixture is a chattel which is attached to the land and becomes a part of the land. Under English law the doctrine of fixtures is explained through two maxims, they are,
‘Quic quid plantatur solo, solo cedit’ which means, whatever planted in the Earth becomes the part of the Earth and the owner of the land will become the owner of the thing placed in the Earth.
‘Quic quid inaedificatur solo, solo cedit’ which means, whatever built or embedded in the soil becomes the part of the Earth and the owner of the land will become the owner of the thing built or embedded in the Earth.
There are three tests to determine whether a chattel after the attachment has become a fixture or not. They are
Mode of attachment and consequences of its detachment
Object or intention of attachment
By whom attached
Difference between chattels and fixtures
‘Fixtures’ are those material things which are physically attached to the soil and also it becomes the property of the owner. A chattel is also a physical object even though it is placed in some close relation with the land it never becomes the property of the owner.
Important matters to determine the fixtures
The removal of the chattel would cause damage to the land or buildings to which the chattel attached
The mode and structure of annexation
Whether the cost of renewal would exceed the value of the attached property
Does that the chattel require affixation to function properly or to be enjoyed
Leigh v. Taylor
In this case, a house was built with wood but it doesn’t attach to the land. The court held that the house was considered as a chattel and not a fixture.
The doctrine of fixtures might be relevant when
Sold: fixtures are passed to the buyers when the land is sold
Mortgaged: the fixtures are passed to the mortgagee but not the chattels
Leased to a tenant: special rules applied to fixtures installed by a tenant
Landowner dies: fixtures automatically pass to the owner’s legal heirs after his death
The land is given by gift: fixtures will be passed to the new owner but not the chattels
Degree of annexation
If the chattel is attached to the land other than its weight (by screws or bolts) it is also considered as a fixture
If the chattel is only attached by its weight then the chattel is not a fixture even though it is attached to the soil.
Fixtures are the physical object which is permanently attached to the land and also becomes the property of the landowner. A fixture becomes more apparent when it is attached to land to enhance the use or increase its value. The building which is attached to the land is an example of fixtures.
The chattels can be described as any property except freehold land. They are usually movable property; they are neither land nor permanently attached to the land.