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What is an Appurtenance in Real Estate?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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An appurtenance is something lesser that is attached to something larger. In law, this term is often used in the context of real estate. One can be physical or intangible in nature, and it becomes attached to something else by law or by convention. Sometimes, people may refer to something “with appurtenances” as a reminder that there are things attached. People should take note of any attachments that go with something because they can affect its utility, function, or value.

In real estate, a physical appurtenance is something attached to a property that is of lesser value than the property itself. One example is a shed on a property holding a single family home. The shed goes with the property and is considered part of it, which means that it will not be removed when the property is sold. Other examples are things like garages, septic systems, wells, water storage tanks, and so forth.

Such attachments can also be things that are intangible in nature, such as easements. An easement gives someone else the legal right of enjoyment and is attached to a property in the same way that something physical like a well is. For example, a driveway easement is an appurtenance. When the property is sold, the easement goes with it. In this case, the attachment to the property is provided for the convenience of someone else, but the property owner is expected to respect it.

When evaluating real estate for purchase or rental, people should take note of the appurtenances. For example, someone renting a unit should ask if it comes with appliances, such as a stove and refrigerator, or not. If it does, they are considered attached to the home being leased and the landlord is responsible for maintaining them. If it does not, the tenant is expected to provide them and the landlord takes no responsibility for their installation and upkeep.

People purchasing property should be aware of what does and does not come with it, and some of these things can be negotiable. For example, a buyer could ask that a portable shed be left on the property as part of the sales agreement. Conversely, a buyer could ask that something attached to the property be removed as a condition of sale, or that the buyer be given a discount to handle the disposition of something that is attached to the property.

What Is An Appurtenance In Real Estate?

To determine if something is a physical appurtenance, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must install the appurtenance in a way that makes it permanent. For example, items must be bolted onto the home, cemented into the ground, or connected to the home’s wiring. Any property that you can move easily is considered personal property and does not belong to the real estate.
  2. You must intend on permanently keeping the appurtenance with the property.
  3. The appurtenance must be removable without causing damage to the structure of the home. If an item is so permanent that removing it would destroy part of the property, it is part of the real estate and not something separate. An example is a ceiling fan that can be removed and replaced with a light fixture or a shed that can be disassembled and taken away. While neither project is easy or fast, neither destroys the house in the process.

What Are Some Appurtenances Examples?

You may find appurtenances in many different areas on a property. Some may be located inside the home, but they are often around the main house’s exterior. Here is a closer look at some examples.

Inside the Home

Most items inside a home are considered personal property. However, there are a few exceptions. Items hard-wired to the home’s electrical system, such as lights and ceiling fans, are appurtenances. While you can remove these items, a new owner usually expects to have the fans and lights as they were when they purchased the home. This also includes cabinets in the bathrooms and the kitchen, built-in bookshelves, and hard-wired appliances like the air conditioner and water heater.

Structures Attached to the Land

If your home has an unattached garage, a workshop or a barn on the land next to it, then these are considered appurtenances because they are not connected to the primary residence. Sometimes a new owner purchases one house over another because of a large workshop or a barn for their animals, so it’s always a good idea to include these items on a list of appurtenances when selling your home.

Land Behind the House

Your home's backyard may contain items that you have added to create a livable space. Some of these appurtenances may be:

  • A garden
  • Crops
  • Paver Stones
  • Decks
  • In-ground swimming pools and pumps
  • Fences
  • Trees

When you purchase a home, make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s included in the sale, so you aren’t surprised if something's been removed when you move in.

Natural Resources Located on the Property

Sometimes land may contain oil, minerals and other resources such as a creek. These resources stay with the land, and the owner has the right to use them. When the property is sold, the ownership of the resources changes to the purchaser.

Appurtenances in Rental Homes

Rental homes have the same appurtenances as a house where the owner lives. However, the items belong to the homeowner and not the renter. Many leases list which things belong with the home, such as the refrigerator and stove, so there’s no confusion about who those appliances belong to. If a resident improves the home or installs a new water heater, those items stay with the house when the tenant moves out, regardless of who paid for them.

Property Easements

An easement is an intangible appurtenance that gives someone else access to your property. This access is usually very specific, and its purpose is clearly defined. An excellent example of an easement is a shared driveway or a pathway that makes land-locked property accessible. While this driveway may cross over the land of a single owner, a property easement allows you access to the adjacent home. This means that if the owner of the home with the driveway sells their house, the new owner cannot decide to prevent your access because the easement protects you. Other common easements are drainage runoffs, utility lines or pipes and access to a mailbox. Not all easements are documented on a deed, so ensure you understand the usage arrangements before purchasing land.

What Isn’t Considered an Appurtenance?

While there are several different types of appurtenances, there are many things in a home that aren't considered one. This includes personal belongings, decorations, furniture, lamps and area rugs. These items remain with you, and you should remove them when you move out of the property.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon945717 — On Apr 14, 2014

Are mineral rights considered an appurtenance?

By kylee07drg — On Aug 10, 2011

My sister bought a house with one major appurtenance. It had a guest house in the backyard. She like this, because she often had relatives and friends visit from out of town, and she could give them their privacy while keeping hers.

The brick guest house was small, containing only a kitchen, a living and sleeping area combined, and a bathroom. It came with its own furniture and appliances, appurtenances within an appurtenance. It had its own driveway that connected to the one at the main house, and it was far enough away from the house to feel like a separate home.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 10, 2011

When we began our search for a new apartment, my husband and I actually sought out one without appurtenances. We already had furniture and appliances, and we did not want to have to keep them in storage.

Lots of apartments in our area came with appliances. We finally were able to find one that was threadbare. It was in a new complex that had just been opened up to tenants. The landlord told us that he planned to put appliances in some of the apartments to give renters the option of getting one with or without appurtenances, so we were able to get one without any.

By shell4life — On Aug 09, 2011

My family moved into our new home when I was just nine, and it came with one major appurtenance - a swimming pool! I was overjoyed at this.

I’m sure that it raised the price of the home substantially. It was a rectangular in-ground pool, and it had been well maintained. My parents had to read a manual to learn how to care for it.

In my opinion, it was worth whatever extra they had to pay for it. It provided hours of entertainment for my sister and I, and it gave us something to do with our friends. My mother finally learned how to swim in it, and my disabled grandmother could do a water workout in it that kept her arthritis at bay and her muscles active.

By seag47 — On Aug 08, 2011

When my husband and I found a home to rent, we found that it did not technically come with appurtenances. An old dishwasher, a microwave, and an old stove were left behind by the previous tenant who died, but the landlord did not maintain that he owned these or that he would be responsible for their upkeep.

He did tell us that if we had appliances of our own, he would gladly remove the old ones. We had just gotten married and had none of these things, so we were glad they were there.

The stove had its quirks. You had to set the oven 100 degrees less than the temperature you actually needed, and one eye on the stove eventually went out. However, it served our purposes until we could get a new stove. We were grateful for the accidental appurtenances.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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