Q: A property that was rented to a school has been sold and the school is moving to a new location. There is playground equipment that was purchased by the school and is cemented into the ground.
Can the school dig that up and take it with them or did it become a fixture and therefore goes with the property?
A: It depends on what the contract says about this sort of equipment. In a typical residential purchase contract, fixtures (items that are permanently attached to the property, like light fixtures and bookshelves) are typically left with the property. If you want to take a fixture with you when you move, then you would typically exclude those items from the contract.
When it comes to commercial property, fixtures sometimes belong to the tenants of the property and they are able to do with them what they want. The disposition of fixtures would depend on what the contract between the landlord and tenant says.
For example, if a restaurant leases out a space and then goes out of business, and the restaurant equipment, bar, and light fixtures were all purchased by the restaurant owners, they may be entitled to remove these items even if they were attached to the rental space.
In your situation, if the school and the former owner of the property agreed that the school could take the playground equipment with them, then they’d be entitled to dig it up and move it. If the contract was silent on the specifics of which fixtures could be removed, then the school might not have been able to take the equipment. In that case, and for more precise answers to your question, you should talk to a real estate attorney.
If local residents are unhappy that a really nice playground has been removed, then you should talk to your local municipality about creating a new playground that features similar equipment. Many communities have raised private funds to create these kinds of child-friendly playgrounds, which help stabilize areas and provide a safe and fun environment for their children.