Was Ms. T’s tub actually affixed to the apartment such that it became a permanent fixture?
II. Short Answer
No, Ms. T’s tub was not affixed to the apartment in a manner that made it a permanent fixture. The test for affixation requires both the analysis of the extent of annexation and the intention of the owner during affixation. Both tests offer objective and subjective evidence that proves that the tub could not have been a permanent fixture in the apartment.
According to 60 Okl.St.Ann.§ 7(2013),
A thing is deemed to be affixed to land when it is attached to it by roots, as in the case of trees, vines or shrubs, or embedded in it, as in the case of walls, or permanently resting upon it, as in the case of buildings, or permanently attached to what is thus permanent, as by means of cement, plaster, nails, bolts or screws.
In essence, a fixture is an item that is attached to the land in a manner that it accedes to the land, thus becoming a part of the land and the owner’s property.
According to the statutes, affixation to the land is a form of a permanent fixture. However, there are components that determine permanency. Tolle v. Vandenburg (1915) elaborates that objects that are only bound by weight to the property are prima facie considered personalty and not realty. It is the responsibility of the contender to prove that the degree of fixation was permanent and that a certain part of the property was not owned by the tenant.
Ms. T’s session and the installation invoice facilitate the first test of property fixtures. The statutes indicate the need for a permanent form of attachment of the object. In this regard, it appears that Ms. T. had the tub installed on its own feet and without any permanent forms of attachment to the flooring. The plaster, screws, and bolts were only applied to the piping to ensure it remained functional after its redirection to the tub. According to Mortgage Bond Co. et al. v. Stephens (1937), actual annexation must be of a permanent character. While one may contend that the piping is part of the building and its connection to the tub makes it a fixture, the tub fails the test of actual annexation.
60 Okl.St.Ann. § 7 elaborates the role of the intention of the owner during installation in determining whether an object is a fixture or chattel. However, the statute elaborates that the intent is not merely the owner’s intentions but also the outcomes inferred from the nature of installation (Mortgage Bond Co. et al. v. Stephen). Thus, reviewing the nature of installation makes it clear that the owner had little intention to make the fixture permanent. They could have had the tub installed into the tiled floor, but they chose to have it stand on legs instead. Like in United Benefit Life Insurance Co. v. Norman Lumber Company (1971), the tenant only connected the item to the building in ways that were necessary. The tub was connected to the building through the piping; evidently, there were no alternative means of connecting the tub to the water supply. The invoice expressly indicates that the tub was not attached to the wall or floor, and it was left standing free in the middle of the floor. Thus, according to the Oklahoma statute, the intention of the owner could not have been to make the tub a permanent fixture in the building.
In addition, Mortgage Bond Co. et al. v. Stephens (1937) states the purpose for which a fixture is installed and the role it plays in determining its permanency. Any indispensable installation becomes reality when installing in a building. However, in Ms. T’s case, the tub is not an indispensable asset, especially because it is located in the middle of the seating area. There is another bathroom in the same house, implying that the tub was installed for the purposes of Ms. T’s luxury only. Ms. T. also explains that she only installed the bathtub because she was excited at the prospect of relaxing in it within her sitting area. Thus, as the installation of the bathtub was not indispensable for Ms. T’s activities, she did not intend to make it a permanent part of the building.
Ms. T’s bathtub was not a permanent fixture in the apartment, and it cannot be considered a reality by the landlord. The analysis of the installation invoice and her interview reveals that the tub was not fixed to the floor or walls by any permanent means. The only connection to the building it had was through the pipes, which were a necessity in order for the tub to function. According to the interview, Ms. T. did not install the tub because it was an absolute necessity in the house. She was only seeking additional luxury, and the bathtub did not become an indispensable asset in the seating area. Therefore, while she may not have communicated her intention to the owner, Ms. T. could not possibly have intended her installation to become an integral part of the building.