What Is Appurtenance?

Appurtenance is a legal term denoting the attachment of a right or property to a more worthy principal. Appurtenance occurs when the attachment becomes part of the property such as a furnace or air conditioning unit. Appurtenance is also an object or privilege associated with status, title or affluence.

Appurtenance Explained

Appurtenance is usually applicable to property rights or items that are permanent and are passed along with the sale of the property. An appurtenance is real property, which has been defined as being immovable or fixed to the land. Appurtenances relate to the land. For legal transactions, appurtenances grant the ownership of certain items to a person who owns property. For example, once a tenant installs a new water tank into the apartment, they usually can not remove the appurtenance because it is now part of the property. 

More examples of appurtenances include in-ground swimming pools, a fence, or a shed that are all fixed to the land. Appurtenances include rights to natural resources found in the land, such as minerals or oil, as well as improvements to the property and easements. Property rights are typically sold with the home and include appurtenances.

In more specific terms, an appurtenance refers to a legal right, privilege, or improvement belonging to or which accompanies a principal property. It could, for instance, refer to an empty portion of land behind an adjoining house that is therefore regarded as that house's backyard. The idea is that it is being expressed that the backyard "belongs" to the house, which is the more significant of the two. In 1919, the Supreme Court of Minnesota adopted the following definition of an appurtenance: "That which belongs to something else. Something annexed to another thing more worthy." – Cohen v Whitcomb, (1919 142 Minn 20).

Other Meanings of Appurtenance

In Gestalt theory, appurtenance (or "belongingness") is the relation between two things seen which exert influence on each other. For example, fields of color exert influence on each other. "A field part x is determined in its appearance by its 'appurtenance' to other field parts. The more x belongs to the field part y, the more will its whiteness be determined by the gradient xy, and the less it belongs to the part z, the less will its whiteness depend on the gradient xz."

In lexicology, an appurtenance is a modifier that is appended or prepended to another word to coin a new word that expresses "belongingness". In the English language, appurtenances are most commonly found in toponyms and demonyms, for example, 'Israeli', 'Bengali' etc. have an -i suffix of appurtenance.

People may make references to the appurtenances of wealth or celebrity. These often include sports cars, large estates, and designer clothing.