Understanding Chattels in Real Estate

real estate chattels


Navigating the complex language of real estate can be daunting, particularly for those purchasing their first home. That’s why I regularly take pleasure in writing articles and sharing real-life examples. My aim is to help my clients comprehend the significance of safeguarding their interests in this intricate field.

What are Chattels?

In real estate terms, a “chattel” refers to a movable item of personal property that is not permanently attached to, or part of, the real estate. Chattels are distinct from fixtures, which are items that are attached to the property and are considered part of the real estate.

Some examples of chattel include:

Furniture: Any movable objects like sofas, beds, tables, and chairs are classified as chattel because they can be easily transported.
Appliances: Household equipment, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers, are considered chattel because they can be disconnected and moved with relative ease.
Artwork and Decorations: Paintings, sculptures, or other decorative items are considered chattel because they can be taken down and transported to another location.
Vehicles: Cars, boats, and recreational vehicles are classified as chattel because they can be relocated without any impact on the property they were associated with.

  • Check out my Glossary of Real Estate Terms where you’ll learn what the top 100

Q: HeyRob, If I like a certain chattel, can I ask for them to be included in the offer and what happens if on day of closing the seller decides to take the chattel out of the home?

A: Absolutely, if you’re interested in a particular chattel, you can definitely request for it to be included in the offer on a property. Let me share an experience that highlights what can happen if a chattel, agreed upon in an accepted offer, is removed on the day of closing.

A few years ago, I had a buyer client who made an offer on a home. This home had beautiful custom drapery that, while technically considered chattels, caught my client’s eye. They were not only exquisite but also quite expensive. Understanding that sellers can sometimes have emotional attachments to their personal items, I nonetheless conveyed my buyer’s desire to include these draperies in the sale. To our relief, the seller agreed.

However, on the day of closing, my client entered the property and was dismayed to find the drapes missing. Understandably upset, they immediately got in touch with me. My advice was clear: contact their lawyer without delay. Meanwhile, I reached out to the Listing Agent to address the situation.

It turned out that the seller had already relocated and had hired a packing and moving company to handle their belongings. In a mix-up, the company had mistakenly removed the drapes. When this error was brought to light, they promptly rectified the situation. They not only agreed to return the drapes but also to have them dry cleaned as a gesture of goodwill.

The incident was resolved amicably, but it’s crucial to note that if this had been a deliberate act by the seller, they would have been in breach of contract. Such a breach could lead to significant consequences, including legal repercussions and financial compensation demands. This experience served as a vivid reminder of the importance of clearly stipulating terms regarding chattels in real estate transactions and the potential complications that can arise when those terms are not honored.

About the Author
Robert Budnikas
Robert is a trusted real estate professional with 20 years of service in Burlington, Hamilton, Milton and Oakville. He has helped many of his customers achieve their dreams of home ownership whether a first time home buyer, a family upgrading to a larger home or an empty nester looking forward to retirement. He's a dedicated realtor ready to take your real estate experience to the MAX!