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At the time of contract seller stated a built in projector…

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At the time of contract...
At the time of contract seller stated a built in projector and screen were not his but belonged to a company who had installed them for the purpose of a fundraiser held at this new home. After not hearing from anyone I contacted the company and they sated they had been paid for the equipment and were not going to remove same. One year after sale the builder is asking to come in and remove the equipment. Does he have the law on his side or should it have been removed prior to sale?
Submitted: 7 years ago.Category: Real Estate Law
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Answered in 12 minutes by:
9/18/2011
Real Estate Lawyer: socrateaser, Lawyer replied 7 years ago
socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40,231
Experience: Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired
Verified
Hello,

If the property was sold with no conditions on the equipment stated in the sales contract, and the projector and screen were physically attached to the structure, then that makes the equipment "fixtures" under real property law, and fixtures become real property and transfer with title to the purchaser.

There is a theory called "trade fixture" law which can permit a person the right to remove such fixtures prior to sale or termination of a lease. However, absent removal, if title has transferred to you, and the equipment was permanently affixed to the property, then, just as a stove, oven, chandelier or water heater is attached, the equipment is your real property now.

Hope this helps.

NOTICE: My goal here is to educate others about the law. I am always available to answer your follow-up questions after you click Accept – however, if you do not click Accept, the website gets paid, and I receive nothing. This is true, even if you are on a subscription plan. So please click Accept, so that I will be able to continue to provide this service for others in the future.


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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40,231
Experience: Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago
The items were excluded on the P & S. Seller stated they were the property of Audio company who installed them. When I contacted the Co. to make an offer on the items, they stated they had been paid for the items. Now 1 year later seller, a builder wants to remove permanently affixed units? Is this situation covered by any Rule, Law, Regulation?
Real Estate Lawyer: socrateaser, Lawyer replied 7 years ago
There are no Massachusetts statutes or regulations concerning this issue.

The law of Massachusetts has not changed in more than 185 years. In Whiting v. Brastow, 21 Mass. 310, at 311, 4 Pick. 310 (Mass. 1826), the Mass. Supreme Court stated:

  • [A] tenant for life, years, or for will, may at the expiration of his estate remove from the freehold all such improvements as were erected or placed there by him, the removal of which will not injure the premises or put them in a worse plight than they were in when he took possession.

Later in Gaffield v. Hapgood, 34 Mass. 192, 17 Pick. 192 (Mass. 1835), the Court wrote:

  • If the fixture should not be removed during the term, and the tenant should quit, and the landlord take possession afterwards, the law is very clear, that the fixture becomes a part of the freehold, and that the party who was tenant cannot legally take it away afterwards.

Though the above-quoted principles are most often applied to tenants, they apply as well to transfers from a seller to a buyer, as can be seen where the Court describes a "tenant for life," which is a grant of real property title for the life of the grantee, and not merely a conventional lease/rental.

In plain English, if an owner permanently transfers real property to a which an item of personal property is attached and cannot be removed without damaging the value of the real property, then that property becomes the property of the transferee.

We're not talking about a sofa or a plow, which can simply be picked up and removed. We're talking about things which are affixed to the real property.

Hope this helps.

NOTICE: My goal here is to educate others about the law. I am always available to answer your follow-up questions after you click Accept – however, if you do not click Accept, the website gets paid, and I receive nothing. This is true, even if you are on a subscription plan. So please click Accept, so that I will be able to continue to provide this service for others in the future.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“To Socrateaser”), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!

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