Q: I recently purchased my first home. I moved in after settlement and found that the dining room lighting fixture had been removed. What is the law dealing with this situation?
Jeremy Talfman, Owings Mills
A: Under Maryland law, "fixtures" are supposed to convey or transfer with the house while personal property or "chattel," does not.
The two major tests in determining whether something attached to a house is part of the house are:
* The intention of the person who attached the item to the house, and whether he had meant to make it a permanent part of the house.
* Whether the item is permanently attached, and its removal would damage the house. Because a dining room lighting fixture usually can be easily removed without damaging the house, they are generally not considered a part of the house and are not automatically included with the sale.
I recommend buyers list all lighting fixtures, appliances, curtain rods and outside sheds in the sales contract.
When in doubt, list the items as ones that will remain with the house.
Q: I need a new roof. One contractor offered to put a rubber roof on for $820. Another contractor offered to put a rubber roof with aluminum coating for $900. But the first contractor said aluminum is bad for rubber roofs. What should I do?
John Garibaldi, Arbutus
A: While it is a fairly new concept in residential real estate, a good quality rubber roof should last at least 10 years, according to Bruce Boswell, home inspector with Boswell Building Surveys Inc. However, he recommended that you should get a 10-year warranty from the roofing company that covers materials and installation. Also, a roofer who has experience with rubber roofing is recommended.
The price of the roof depends on the square footage. A quality rubber roof should be designed to wear well without an additional coating, so the aluminum coated rubber roof is probably unnecessary.