Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Trade Fixtures Definition:

Fixtures created during the course of a commercial lease and which revert to the tenant at the end of the lease if removable without damage.

A distinct variety of fixtures which benefit from a common law rule that, if removable without substantial damage to the premises, and barring any contrary stipulation in a lease, they do not belong to the landlord, a tenant may remove such trade fixtures at the end of the lease.

Some examples from the cases include railways, telephone lines, logging equipment, shelving (pictured), counters, kitchen or cooking equipment.

Each case must be decided on its own merits given the necessary analysis of removeability, relative damage caused by removal, and a search for any term to the contrary.

Trade fixtureIn Re Howard Laundry, Justice Coxe of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States wrote:

"The presumption is that trade fixtures belong to the tenant, and if it be the intention of the parties that they shall become the property of the landlord at the expiration of the lease, that purpose should be stated in language so clear and explicit that there can be no doubt as to its meaning. That intent can be deduced from broad and general language which is usually found in the printed forms regarding 'improvements'. Where this word is used without any language defining or extending its ordinary meaning the Courts with substantial uniformity have held that it relates to improvements to the realty and not to trade fixtures."

In Coleman v Monahan, Justice Hazen of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick added:

"... in this connection it should be stated the term trade has been given a wide significance and seems to cover any calling for the purpose of pecuniary profit, provided it is not exclusively agricultural in its nature, and so articles and things for the purpose of carrying on a trade are called trade fixtures and are removable by the tenant during his term if the removal will not materially injure the premises."


  • Coleman v Monahan 1927 2 DLR 209
  • In re Howard Laundry Company, 203 Federal Reporter 445 (1913, Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States)

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!