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See some of Saul Fenchel's eminent domain articles covering various subjects in Eminent Domain Condemnation.

What are fixtures? Can I recover for damages to my equipment and fixtures?

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A. Damages to Fixtures

A property owner (and this includes lessees as well) can separately recover for damages to property which qualifies as a fixture or a “trade fixture.”

B. What is Considered A Fixture?

What constitutes a compensable fixture does not lend itself to a simple definition. That the item may be removable does not mean you cannot be compensated if the item is left. There have been numerous cases recently decided by the courts wrestling with the definition. Very broadly speaking, a fixture is compensable if (i) it is intended to be used in conjunction with the property or the operation on the property; (ii) it is affixed in a manner where it shows that it was intended to be permanently affixed; or (iii) the property would be damaged if the fixture was removed.

C. Proof of Fixture Damage?

Fixture claims are complicated and require detailed evidentiary support. A fixture claim requires advance planning at the time of title vesting.

The property owner should make certain that photographs have been taken of any fixtures before moving out. A detailed inventory should be taken of what is left and what is removed. Any item which has been removed may not be claimed for as a fixture. However, the costs of removal and reinstallation may be claimed.1

1Apart from the question of compensability for fixtures in a condemnation proceeding itself; there is another source of compensation. If the taking -- which is quite common -- is funded in whole or in part by federal funds, the Federal Uniform Relocation Act will apply which provides for reimbursement of specific items or services and in particular, moving, storage, and reinstallation of fixtures. There are of course limits to the amount of reimbursement and it does require complete documentation. The State of New York also has its own relocation expense reimbursement policy which can also cover some or all of the expenses associated with moving, storing and reinstalling fixtures and equipment.

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