What Are Appurtenances In Real Estate

As you delve deeper into the world of real estate, you’ll come across numerous terms that are specific to this field. One term that you’ll encounter frequently is “appurtenances.” While the concept might initially seem overwhelming, it is easy to understand. Moreover, it plays an essential role in property ownership and truthful advertising. This blog post will discuss appurtenances, their definition, and how they relate to the broader real estate profession.

What is the Definition of an Appurtenance?

Appurtenances refer to additions to a house that have become permanent, such as improvements or rights that become a permanent part of the entity at large. These additions are considered part of the property transaction. They are often seen as an added bonus when purchasing a new house. Therefore, they are recognized as a part of the larger entity. They cannot be temporary items or pieces of equipment that belong to an individual.

According to the exact definition of appurtenance, they are “property rights or items that are permanent and are passed along with the sale of the property.” By categorizing parts of the property as appurtenances, real estate transactions become much easier since these additions do not have to be separated from the property itself, which can lead to additional paperwork and expenses.

History of Appurtenances in Real Estate

Appurtenances became a defined term in the profession of real estate after the Cohen v. Whitcomb case in 1919. A heated debate occurred about whether a hot water heater, which the tenant installed, would still be owned by them or if it was now part of the property at large. Ultimately, the court decided that the hot water heater, classified as a “repair” and “improvement” to the property, now became a permanent part of the property itself and was technically owned by the landlord.

Can Appurtenances Be Removed?

For something to be classified as an appurtenance, it must be fixed to the building rather than being something that can easily be removed or replaced. If removing the item would cause a considerable amount of damage to the property, it would be considered an appurtenance. The permanence of the addition to the property is essential, and it is where the term can become a little gray and vague in its definition.

For example, while fences are considered appurtenances, they need to be fixed to the land, and removing them would cause damage to the soil outside of the house. Therefore, a baby fence placed by the stairs that can be picked up and moved around is not considered an appurtenance. Similarly, if an antenna has been attached to a chimney and has become installed to the chimney itself, it would be classified as an appurtenance, and removing it would cause damage.

Examples Of Appurtenances

Common examples of additions and repairs to a home that would be classified as appurtenances include Examples Of Appurtenances

  • Driveways
  • Fences
  • In-ground Swimming Pools
  • Garages
  • Barns
  • Sheds
  • Cabinets
  • Septic Tanks
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Furnaces
An easy way to determine if something is or is not an appurtenance is to recognize whether it can be removed from where it has been placed and if the current owner is able to take this attachment with them when they move to another property. Anything attached via a plug or not built with the intention of being permanent is not considered an appurtenance, such as an above-ground pool designed to be temporary and can be moved without causing damage to the property.

What Is An Appurtenant Easement?

An appurtenant easement refers to someone lending a part of their attached real property to another person for a specific purpose. It is an agreement made between two people to allow an outsider to traverse across parts of their property to get to another destination.

Example: the owner of a property who has built a driveway may allow someone else to walk or drive through the driveway in order to get to a facility that is further on. Sometimes, this can be done without any money being passed between both parties. In other cases, the landowner may require a one-time fee in exchange for granting access to the other person.

Appurtenant easements can also include the right to use a shared driveway or common areas such as a park or a swimming pool in a housing community. These easements are usually recorded in the property deed and can affect the property’s value.

Why Are Appurtenances Important in Real Estate?

Appurtenances are crucial in real estate transactions since they can affect the property’s value, ownership, and transfer. When buying or selling a property, it’s essential to consider all the appurtenances attached to it and understand its classification. Failure to recognize an appurtenance can result in legal disputes or additional expenses.

Moreover, appurtenances can also affect the use and enjoyment of the property. For example, suppose an appurtenant easement allows someone to cross through the property at specific times. In that case, it can limit the owner’s privacy and restrict the use of the property.


Appurtenances are additions to a house that have become permanent, such as improvements or rights that become a permanent part of the entity at large. They are recognized as part of the larger property entity and cannot be temporary items or pieces of equipment that belong to an individual. Appurtenances can affect the property’s value, ownership, and transfer, and it’s essential to consider all of them during real estate transactions. Understanding appurtenances and their classification is vital for real estate agents, buyers, and sellers to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.

Learn More About Appurtenances

Appurtenances are just one of hundreds of terms which you’ll master as you study for your real estate license. The pre-license course from Chamberlin Real Estate School presents terms in a way that makes them easy to understand and remember. Any time you have questions, whether about terminology or fundamental concepts in real estate, you’ll have a live instructor available to help you as you prepare to become a Real Estate Agent. Start your journey today!

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