Just Because Lights Are Easy to Remove Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Fixtures
What Happened: Nobody had any issue with the auto dealer’s removal of the “Ford” sign it had installed on the lot at its own expense and owned. But the tenant also took away six large light stands when its lease came to an end. The landlord claimed that the lights were fixtures and sued the tenant for breach of lease and “conversion” of property, since the tenant destroyed the lights after removing them. The tenant denied that the lights were fixtures. But the court disagreed and found the tenant guilty of waste. Result: It awarded the landlord treble damages of $46,200, or triple its $15,400 in actual damages.
Ruling: The Missouri appeals court upheld the award.
Reasoning: The evidence was clear that the landlord purchased the lights 20 years ago with the intent of making them a permanent part of the property. The lease language reaffirmed this. The tenant’s argument that the lights couldn’t have been fixtures since they were so easy to remove—a simple unbolting and cut of the wires was all it took—held no water. Ease of removal isn’t the test for determining whether something is a permanent fixture, the court explained.
- Bedford v. Audrain Cty. Motor Co., 2021 Mo. App. LEXIS 744, 2021 WL 3354286