Can I take any plants with me when I sell my home?

The Edmisten & Buck Team
The Edmisten & Buck Team
Published on June 26, 2018

Suppose for a minute that you are a homeowner and you are selling your home. Time is winding down and you getting close to moving day.  One day you are standing on the front porch of your home and look into the flower bed and see a rose bush that is sentimental to you because it was a gift.  You go ahead and dig up the rose bush before closing and take it to your new home.

The buyers do a walk through prior to closing and notice that something is missing from the flower bed.  They are adamant that the rose bush should not have been taken.  Do they have a case?

FRUCTUS NATURALES

Fructus Naturales – Permanent plantings that are not considered crops, such as landscaping. This term is further defined by the court case of Marshall v Green and indicates that plants that grow naturally and independently of man’s industry such as grasses, perennial bushes or trees (including the fruits therefrom that do not need to have a crop taken to ensure rejuvenation), especially where “the labour employed in their planting bears so small a proportion to their natural growth”, Marshall v Green (1875) 1 CPD 35, 40.

Fructus Naturales are considered real property in many common law legal systems (such as Virginia) and as such are a permanent part of the property. Therefore, if the plant(s), in this example the rose bush, was not addressed in the contract, then yes there is a problem. 

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors contract, which is the one used most often in our area even attempts to address Fructose Naturales by mentioning that exterior trees and shrubs are considered a permanent part of the property. And yes, we have seen small trees dug up and removed prior to closing, in violation of Fructus Naturales and the existing contract.

DISCLOSE AND ADDRESS IT IN THE CONTRACT

Before you put your home on the market consider if you have any sentimental permanent plantings.  If so, make sure you have your real estate agent disclose in the listing that it will be removed and definitely make sure it is addressed in the contract.

If you are thinking of selling and have questions, we are happy to answer those questions for you.

This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advise. Please consult a legal professional for legal advise. 

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