Most property may be characterized as real property (land and permanent improvements) or personal property (all other property) (tangible personal property in some historical contexts is called chattel). Real property includes land as well as buildings and other immovable, permanent improvements attached to the land. Personal property includes a broader range of property, from tangible items such as furniture, cars, books, and machinery, for example, to intangible items such as stock and bonds. The distinction between real property and personal property informs many areas of the law. This chapter explores a hybrid asset: the fixture.
A fixture is a form of chattel or personal property that, while retaining a separate identity, is so connected to the real property that the law considers it a part of the realty. A furnace, for example, is commonly thought of as a fixture in a house. Other common fixtures in a house would be a dishwasher, light fixtures, bathtubs, and toilets. A fixture thus stands on the definitional border between personal property and real property.