Strain v. Green

25 Wash. 2d 692, 172 P.2d 216 (1946)

 

RULE:

The question of whether a specific item is a fixture or mere chattel does not require knowing the intention of the owner who affixed the item. Intent should be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the item and if the household would be complete without the fixture.

FACTS:

After selling their property, the sellers took several installations them. The trial court held that some items were fixtures that formed part of the property and had to be returned to the buyer but that certain lights and mirrors were not fixtures. The court reversed in part and held that the seller's secret intent to keep those items was not dispositive of whether they were fixtures; intent was inferred by the circumstances.

ISSUE:

Did the court err in considering the intent of the sellers in determining whether the fixtures formed part of the real property?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The intent is not to be gathered from testimony of the actual state of the mind of the party making the annexation but is to be inferred, when not determined by an express agreement, from the nature of the article affixed, the relation and situation to the freehold of the party making the annexation, the manner of the annexation, and the purpose for which it is made. The criteria for a fixture was the united application of: (1) Actual annexation to the realty, or something appurtenant thereto, (2) application to the use or purpose to which that part of the realty with which it was connected was appropriated, and (3) the intention of the party making the annexation to make a permanent accession to the freehold.

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