Real Estate 101: What stays and what goes?

Let’s start with some Alberta real estate market stats:


  • For the month of January inventory is sitting at 15,719 a 3.3% increase year over year.


  • In January the total residential average price in Alberta was $420,152. This is a 4.9% decrease year over year.


These stats are great news if you are considering whether to enter the Alberta real estate market. Spring is fast approaching and this, combined with the summer months, tend to be the busiest for real estate.

However, regardless of whether you are a first-time home buyer, someone who has some experience navigating the market, or anywhere in between its important to ensure that you have a team of professionals on your side. At Hayes-Fry Law, our real estate team is here to do just that!

At Hayes-Fry Law we believe that sharing is caring, and information is power. So today we want to provide you with information that may help you avoid a dispute in your real estate transaction and ensure the process is a happy endeavour!

In a home sale, disputes can sometimes arise from a disagreement regarding whether certain items in the home were meant to stay with the home and become the property of the buyer; or whether the seller maintains ownership of the item and is entitled to take it with them. In legalise we refer to this as a fixture (aka items that stay) or a chattel (aka items that the seller maintains ownership of).

Fixture vs. Chattel

A fixture is a piece of property that is attached to the land, building or other structures on the land, with the intention of it remaining there. Common examples of fixtures include cabinets, heating or air-conditioning equipment. A chattel on the other hand is considered to be a piece of personal property that is not fixed to the land, building or any other structures on the land and can easily be moved around. Common examples of a chattel can include loose tools or equipment such as a lawn mower.

While determining a fixture from a chattel may seem relatively straight forward on paper, it can be more challenging in practice.

Curious what happens in a dispute?

Let us first start by saying:

The best thing you can do is avoid a dispute all together. This is done by having frank negotiations up front, including the decisions made in your purchase/sale agreement. Having a knowledgeable and reputable real estate agent and lawyer on your team is key!

However, if for some unfortunate turn of events you do find yourself in a dispute, here is what you need to know.

The courts will consider four things:


  1. An item is considered a chattel if it is not attached to the land (other than by the weight of the item itself), subject to evidence which shows that the item was intended to be permanent.


  1. An item is considered a fixture if it is attached to the land, subject to evidence showing it was not intended to be permanent and instead was intended to be a chattel.


  1. The nature, size, value and degree of fixation of an item to the land are considered when determining whether an item fixed to the land is in fact a fixture or alternatively a chattel.


  1. The intention of the person who fixed the item in its place is only considered based on the “degree and nature” of the item’s fixation to the land.


If you are getting ready to embark on buying or selling a home and are looking for a trusted lawyer to help you through this exciting process the Hayes-Fry Law real estate team is here for you. Give our office a call today at 780.831.7370 or email and we’d be happy to help.

The following resources were relied on in the preparation of this blog:


  • Alberta Real Estate Association, “Province of Alberta Monthly Statistics” (January 2023), Online:


  • Stack v. T. Eaton Co. (1902), 4 O.L.R. 335, 1 O.W.R. 511, 1902 CarswellOnt 399 (Ont. Div. Ct.)