Affixed and Attached Chattels 

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Remember the basic rules for fixtures and chattels: 

1) if the item is not attached, it is presumed to be a chattel, 

2) if the item is attached, it is presumed to be a fixture, 

3) the presumption of the item being either a chattel or a fixture can be changed if on visible inspection it may be seen: 

•a)    the degree of annexation, and

•b)    the object of annexation. 

4) the intention of the affixing party is not material, unless such intention can be determined, presumed or inferred simply by examination of the item itself. 

Those were the actual common law rules.  While the rules may seem simple enough, the conclusions may not always be clear. 

Here is an example of what might otherwise appear to be a fixture, but which was determined by the Court to be a chattel. 

A 24′ by 32′ sign bolted to concrete blocks implanted in land to advertise a business owned by a vendor of the land was a chattel and therefore removable by the vendor. The chattel was indeed attached, but it retained its character as a chattel since it was a sign advertising another business which was not located on the property. 

Consequently, the sign although  “attached” to the land retained its character as a chattel. Annexation, of course, is a legal conclusion based on the relationship of the item to the land. 

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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