If you are a tenant renting a house or a flat and your tenancy is nearing an end and thinking of leaving some of your possessions/ items behind when you leave, you might be wondering:
What will happen if I leave anything behind?
When you leave the property, any items which are left behind generally fall into two categories, either chattel of fixture, depending upon which category your items fall into you can either, claim your items back or require compensation from the Landlord or in some circumstances lose your legal right in owning it.
What is the difference between a chattel and a fixture? And how can I know?
A chattel does not form part of the land and will always remain the tenant’s property, such as stove, blinds or clothes.
A Fixture does form part of the land, consequently belonging to the landlord if they are not moved by the tenant at the end of the tenancy period, such as awning, satellite dishes and television areal.
The law does not provide two fixed lists of what is classified as a chattel is and what is classified as a fixture is, however, one can assess their items by examining their degree of attachment to the real property.
What happens to the chattels and fixtures when left behind?
If an item is considered as a chattel, the landlord has no right to interfere with the it or hold on to it, to claim rent in arrears for instance, as that will constitute a breach of Interference with Goods Act 1977, resulting in the landlord being obliged to pay compensation if the chattel items have been damaged or disposed of.
On the other hand, a fixture can be proclaimed as the landlord’s property and can keep hold of it.
How to avoid such situation?
A commonly adopted method to avoid such issues is to have a term in the tenancy agreement stating what will become of a chattel and what will become of a fixture should any be left behind. Further, setting a timeframe for the tenant to collect their leftover chattel is always good practice.