What Are Appurtenances In Real Estate

This post was last modified on June 11, 2024.

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 are additions to a property that have become permanent, such as improvements or rights integrated into the property. These additions are included in the property transaction and are often considered a bonus when buying a house. They are part of the larger entity and cannot be temporary items or personal equipment.

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?

To classify something as an appurtenance, it must be fixed to the building and not easily removable or replaceable. If removing it would cause significant damage to the property, it is considered an appurtenance. The permanence of the addition is crucial, which is why the term can sometimes be ambiguous.

For example, fences are considered appurtenances because they are fixed to the land, and removing them would damage the soil. In contrast, a baby gate placed by the stairs that can be easily moved is not an appurtenance. Similarly, an antenna attached to a chimney is an appurtenance, as 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: A property owner with a driveway may allow someone else to walk or drive through it to reach another facility. This can sometimes be done without any exchange of money, or the landowner may require a one-time fee for granting access.

Appurtenant easements can include the right to use shared driveways or common areas like parks or swimming pools in a housing community. These easements are typically recorded in the property deed and can impact 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 permanent additions to a property, such as improvements or rights that become part of the larger property entity. They cannot be temporary items or personal equipment. Appurtenances can impact the property’s value, ownership, and transfer, making it essential to consider them during real estate transactions. Understanding appurtenances and their classification is crucial for real estate agents, buyers, and sellers to ensure smooth and successful transactions.

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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