Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Appurtenance Definition:

Something that, although detached, stands as part of another thing.

Related Terms: Fixtures

An attachment or appendage to something else.

Used often in a real estate context where an appurtenance may be, for example, a right-of-way over water, which, although physically detached, is part of the legal rights of the owner of another property.

In Attorney General of Canada v Western Higbie, Chief Justice Rinfret of Canada's Supreme Court proposed this definition of an appurtenance from a number of courses:

"Things belonging to another thing as principal, and which pass as incident to the principal thing.

"In general everything which is appendant or appurtenant to land will pass by any conveyance of the land itself, without being specified, and even without the use of the ordinary form with the appurtenances at the end of the description."

In Cohen v Whitcomb, the Supreme Court of Minnesota adopted this definition of an appurtenance:

"That which belongs to something else. Something annexed to another thing more worthy."

In Re Hudson, a will included these words: "my present residence, and all appurtenances connected therewith". Justice Boyd of the Ontario Weekly Court (not a typo - the actual name of the now-defunct court) wrote:

"I think it may be inferred from (the will) contents that the intention of the testator was to benefit his son, who is sole beneficiary, by the farm stock and farm implements. These things the draftsman understood were comprehended in the word appurtenances. This, no doubt, is a word of large and flexible meaning, and, apart from its legal conveyancing sense, it has a popular meaning, and may be applied to personalty. One of is meanings ... is things which naturally and fitly form a subordinate part of and belong to a whole system — contributory adjuncts."

What is or is not an appurtenance will depend on the circumstances and situation:

• In The Dundee, as applied to a whaling ship, appurtenances include harpoons and all the outfit of fishing stores.

• In Hunt v Berkley, regarding a silver kettle and lamp, appurtenances will include the stand or frame that supports the kettle.

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