In both commercial and residential real estate, property owners often need to make additions and improvements to their land and buildings. When these improvements are permanent and not easily removable, they are known as appurtenances.
What Is an Appurtenance in Real Estate?
In real estate, an appurtenance is something that is installed onto or is a part of a property. When selling real property, an appurtenance is sold with it and goes to the new owners.
“In real estate, an appurtenance is something that is attached to or part of the land,” said Reid Hogan, a Commercial Real Estate Advisor at LandCashin. “It can be on the land or in it.”
Michael Clarke, Founder at Pulled Inc, added, “An appurtenance is usually applicable to property rights or items that are permanent and passed along with the sale of a property. It is defined as being immovable or fixed to the land. They grant the ownership of certain items to a person who owns the property in legal transactions, such as the sale or transfer of a property.”
Factors that Define Appurtenances
There are a few key factors that define appurtenances, which can help in understanding what qualifies as an appurtenance.
Firstly, an appurtenance is always a permanent addition to the property. If something can be easily removed and taken with the previous owner — like a window air conditioner, for instance — then it is not an appurtenance.
Impossible or Difficult to Remove
Adding to the point of permanence, an appurtenance is something that is impossible or difficult to remove. If the removal of the improvement or addition causes damage to the property, then it is likely considered an appurtenance.
Method of Attachment
Again adding to the characteristic of permanence, an appurtenance’s method of attachment must also be considered permanent. One example is an in-ground pool versus an above-ground pool. An in-ground pool is an improvement that has been attached to the property permanently by the nature of its construction.
Examples of Appurtenances
Some examples of appurtenances include:
- In-ground pools
- Exterior buildings (barns, sheds, etc.)
- Septic tanks
- Oil or mineral rights
- Ceiling fans
What Is Not an Appurtenance?
Anything removable, like a trade fixture, is not considered an appurtenance.
“An example of this is an appliance that is just plugged into an electrical socket,” Hogan said.
Real Estate Appurtenances FAQ
What’s the difference between an appurtenance vs fixture?
An appurtenance is a permanent improvement or addition to the property, whereas a fixture is both necessary to the function of a business on the property, while also removable.
“An appurtenance is something that is added to a property that becomes part of the property and is transferred through a sale,” Clarke said. “A fixture is an item that is integral to a building such as heating units, air conditioning units, solar panels, etc.”
However, while those items are integral, they are also removable. Hogan provided another example of a fixture, such as ceiling lights and built-in appliances. For something to be considered a fixture, it must be necessary to conduct business on the property, but also removable or uninstallable. Generally, tenants are required to remove trade fixtures before their lease ends.
What is an appurtenance easement?
An appurtenance easement is an agreement between two parties, allowing one party to use the other’s property for a specific purpose.
“When a road to a property passes through another person’s land but is necessary to enable access to the home, this is an appurtenance easement,” Clarke explained. “Usually, there is an agreement or one-time fee that was paid to grant this access.”
For instance, a property owner might allow those on another property to walk through their driveway in order to access an adjacent public facility.
“The easement is given to an adjacent property, not to an individual,” Hogan said. “Appurtenance easements ‘run with the land’ and are passed on with the land.”
An Appurtenance Is a Permanent Addition or Improvement
When making additions or improvements to your commercial property, it’s important to understand whether something is considered an appurtenance. An appurtenance can affect the value of the entire property. For instance, adding fences or driveways can increase the value of your property. Make sure to do your due diligence in understanding how new additions can have an impact.