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Based on Baba Batrah 65-67, what are the opinions in the contemporary Halacha about what pieces of furniture are considered "house" and what not, when one sells a house at a fixed price?

Is selling a house different from renting and how?

For example: closets, refrigerators, kitchen fixtures, beds, lamps, curtains, phone/internet lines, TVs etc. Not Mezuzos.

  • This would presumably vary widely based on minhag hamakom – Josh K Oct 4 at 4:49
  • @AlBerko Regarding buying, I answered below. But I don't understand the part of your question which reads "Is selling a house different from renting and how?" - are you asking what belongs to the renter if he rents a furnished house? Nothing I would imagine, he rents the right to use and doesn't acquire anything. – mbloch Oct 4 at 12:44
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The Rambam (in Hilchot Mechira 25:5) brings the following halacha

When a person sells a house, he also sells the oven, the range, the door frames that are attached with mortar, the door, the beam, the lock, but not the key. [...] Nor does he sell the blocks for the feet of a bed, nor the window frames, even though they are affixed with mortar, for they are intended for decoration.

When the seller says that he is selling the house and all its contents, all of the above are also sold.

In Mechira 26:8 he brings the general rule

This is a fundamental principle: With regard to all matters of commerce and trade, we follow the commonly accepted meanings of the terms used by people of that place, and the local business customs. When, however, there are no local business customs or commonly accepted meanings of terms, and instead, one person will have this intent and another, another intent, we follow the guidelines explained by the Sages in these chapters.

As such, generally it depends on minhag hamakom (local commonly agreed practice) and agreement between buyer and seller. When we bought our house in Israel, we agreed to buy all furniture attached to the walls and nothing else, which is apparently quite common practice. See SA CM 214:11 which goes in the same direction.

Regarding modern application, Raphael Grunfeld writes similarly (in the Jewish Press)

As for accessories in the house, the rule of halacha is that in the absence of any stipulation in the contract or any local custom to the contrary, only those accessories that are built into the house are transferred to the purchaser with the house. Anything unattached to the house belongs to the seller. The gold-plated faucets would therefore belong to the purchaser as would the built-in air conditioning unit, but the refrigerator and washing machine would belong to the seller. The light fixtures and even the inserted light bulbs belong to the purchaser but the removable chandelier belongs to the seller. Of course, all of this is subject to local prevailing custom. But if you don’t want to spend the rest of your days litigating over chandeliers and faucets, the best advice is to attach a contents schedule to the contract of sale.

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@MBloch's answer is Halachicly right. However, I and my Chevrutah have found an interesting theoretical distinction that must be made when approaching the Sugyah, not found in Halachic polemics on the subject:

Let's start with Mbloch's answer - all things attached go with the house - "The gold-plated faucets as would the built-in air conditioning unit". I'd like to connect it to a famous Mchlokes about paying for breaking your neighbor's window. According to the commonly accepted approach, we can only evaluate the damage relative to the difference in house price. Therefore, if one breaks a window or steals a faucet, since the price of the property stays pretty much the same, no damage is made and no damages are paid.

Many Rabbis (see Chazon Ish) felt injustice and ruled that the incurred damages must be paid anyway. And here I'd like to explain the difference between the approaches:

When we think of a house we can address it from two opposite views: the house as a property (קרקע) and a house as a dwelling (שימוש). For example, as long as we dwell in a house, we don't care about its price, we care about its uses. So if a window is broken or a faucet is stolen that seriously damages the perceived value of the "usability" of the house, not its market value, and vice verse, if we sell the house, the opposite is true.

And that would be the difference between selling a house as property or selling a house for use (renting): for selling a house as property, only things that are connected (considered קרקע) go with it, but when selling for use (renting), everything that defines a "usable" house (as MB noted, by what's accepted in the area), go with it, like the fridge, the appliances, the TVs and the internet infrastructure, etc - everything that's present is included (unless stated otherwise).


This is but THEORETICAL OVERVIEW of the Sugyah and the two approaches. One should always consult a Rabbi and a lawyer when buying/selling/renting property.

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