Reverse Mortgage. Italian Equity Release Scheme

Reverse mortgages provide an alternative to selling an Italian property

In December 2015 the Italian Ministry of Economic Development introduced a reverse mortgage scheme. This is a form of equity release financing.

The reverse mortgage allows home owners over the age of 60 to convert part of the value of their property into cash. The property acts as security for the loan. The owner remains the legitimate owner and retains the right to live in the property.

A reverse mortgage therefore represents an alternative to selling the property. As with any other loan, when a home owner takes a reverse mortgage, it includes a repayment plan.

Another feature of the reverse mortgage regards interests, which can be refunded either at the time the loan expires or at fixed deadlines. If a borrower chooses the refund upon expiry formula, no sum is due to the bank during the term of the loan. A refund of interest payments and any related costs occur when the borrower dies.

The amount a borrower can release as equity depends on a borrower’s age. The older the borrower, the higher the percentage of equity release. In addition, the lender takes the value of the property to secure the loan into account.

Heirs inherit reverse mortgages

Should the property owner die before repaying the loan, the decedent’s heirs inherit the debt. In terms of repayment, heirs have three options.

1. Repay the debt to the bank to clear the reverse mortgage.

2. Sell the property.

3. Allow the lender to sell the property at market value.

If the property is sold at market value, the heirs have the right to recoup any difference between the sale price and the outstanding reverse mortgage. The  lender cannot ask heirs to repay the debt, if the property fails to sell.

Finally …

If you are need help with equity release in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on their Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.

You may also like our Guide To Selling Property in Italy. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.

Rent-Free Property Agreement: an Overview

A rent-free agreement is not for financial gain

Italian law defines a rent-free property agreement as a party lending an item they own to a borrower. The borrower may use the item for a given period of time or for a specific reason. The borrower then has the obligation to return the item to the lender. As the name implies, a rent-free agreement is not for financial gain.

Italian law does not restrict a rent-free agreements to property. Third parties might borrow all sorts of items.

For example, if you loan your a car or some gardening equipment to someone, this constitutes a rent-free property agreement. In general, it is not necessary for the agreement between the parties to be in writing. An oral agreement is legally valid.

Validity of rent-free property agreements

One of the most common examples of a rent-free property agreement pertains to a parent allowing a child to live for free in a property. And, as far as homes or properties are concerned, this type of agreement must be registered with the Italian tax authorities.

With respect to registered agreements, the 2016 Law of Stability has introduced a tax benefit. This takes the form of a 50% discount on IMU. However, the agreement is subject to three conditions. Firstly, the property must be the main residence of the occupier benefitting from the rent-free agreement. Secondly, there must be first degree kinship relationship between the parties of the contract (typically parents and children). Thirdly, the property owner can own only one additional property. The rent-free property and the other property must be in the same comune.

Other types of property rent agreements in Italy

A word about two other types of property rental agreements in Italy.

A free market agreement (contratto a libero mercato) allows the tenant and landlord to agree financial terms and conditions between themselves. This kind of rent agreement is valid for four years and renewable for an additional four-year period.

Then there is a convention agreement (contratto convenzionato). This is valid for three-year contract and has a two-year renewal option. However, the initial period can be increased to five years without a renewal option.

Finally …

We recognise that letting a property in Italy can be confusing and there are legal risks of allowing somebody into your property without an agreement. If you are planning to let an Italian property, you should always seek legal advice beforehand. we can draft a bi-lingual rental agreement for you. Likewise, if you are planning to have your land managed, you need to protect your rights.

De Tullio Law Firm has over 55 years experience of cross border and Italian property law.  We can negotiate appropriate rental agreements to meet your needs. We can also liaise between property owners and tenants. If you would like further clarifications regarding property rental, or want to discuss your situation, please contact us for a free consultation. We are here to help. 


You may also like to read about buy to rent in Italy.

Brussels IV: Cross-Border Inheritance Law

What is cross-border inheritance?

Cross-border inheritance laws determine which country handles an inheritance (known in legal terms as succession) and, which country’s national law will govern the inheritance. Cross-border inheritance applies if you live in a country which is not your country of origin or if you own assets in more than one country. Likewise, if you are a beneficiary or executor of a family member who lived in a different country from their country of origin when they died. EU Regulation 650/2012, also known as Brussels IV, came in to effect on 17th August 2015.

Brussels IV has implications for all nationals who reside in a participating EU Member State or who have a connection to a participating EU Member State.

Prior to the introduction of Brussels IV, each EU jurisdiction applied its own rules to govern the devolution of individuals’ property.

In order to determine which country laws would apply to an estate, EU states considered various connecting factors. These included domicile, residence, nationality or habitual residence. In addition, in some EU states, applicable succession law depended whether the assets were immovable (property and land) or movable (bank accounts, vehicles, furniture, jewellery and so on).

The fact that each jurisdiction applied different connecting factors often led to costly, protracted and complex conflicts of laws.

Brussels IV simplifies cross-border inheritance matters

Since the 17th August 2015 however, participating EU States have harmonised succession rules. In an effort to simplify cross-border succession, the EU adopted a single, unified connecting factor – habitual residence.

Therefore, the law of the country where the individual was habitually resident at the time of death is the default position. This, regardless of the location of assets in the estate and, whether the assets are immovable or movable.

For example, if you are a British national but you are habitually resident in Italy, Brussels IV means that instead of your assets passing under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, Italian inheritance law will apply to your worldwide assets.

Furthermore, your estate will be subject to Italian forced heirship rules. Forced heirship rules are similar to UK Intestacy rules. However, forced heirship is applicable even if there is a will. The key point is that Italian forced heirship rules take precedence over a will.

In practice, this means that close family members inherit the deceased’s property regardless of the contents of the deceased’s will. This can often be in preference to the deceased’s spouse or partner. Sometimes, this creates conflicts within families who are unfamiliar with forced heirship cultures. Particularly  if the deceased had children from previous relationships. According to Italian forced heirship rules, these children must also inherit a share of their deceased parent’s estate.

Brussels IV provides an opportunity to elect a country law to apply to your succession

Brussels IV allows individuals to make an election for the country of their nationality to apply to the devolution of their entire estate. Or, where individuals have multiple nationalities, a testator may choose to apply one of these nationalities.

Testators do however need to take action. If you own a property in Italy, you can nominate a country law in your will. This is known as a Choice of Law codicil.

If you are in the process of making or reviewing your will, it is therefore worth considering including a properly drafted Choice of Law codicil to apply to cross-border inheritance. You need to carefully consider matters such as foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights with respect to your estate.

Another benefit of Brussels IV is the European Certificate of Succession (ECS). This allows heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate to prove their status. The certificate is then valid in all other EU Member States.

Brussels IV also provides potential benefits for non-EU nationals

Interestingly, there are also potential benefits for non-EU nationals resident in an EU Member State. Again, you need to make an appropriate Choice of Law in your will. For example, US nationals could nominate US law to apply to the succession of their property in Italy. An Australian with property in Spain could nominate Australian law. A Canadian citizen with property in France could elect Canadian law, and so on.

Finally …

Cross-border inheritance law is a complex matter. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation.

For more information about Italian succession and inheritance, you may find our Italian Succession Guide useful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

Unclaimed Italian Property

What is unclaimed Italian property?

Between 1861 and 1985 over 29 million Italians emigrated to other countries. About 18 million Italians permanently settled abroad. Today several tens of millions people living abroad have Italian heritage. When Italian emigrants went abroad, they often left property and land in Italy. This is now unclaimed Italian property.

Many people think that the Italian State confiscated unclaimed property. This is a myth. The reality is that the property is still here in Italy and the original owners are still on the title deeds.

There are many thousands of unclaimed properties and parcels of land  throughout Italy. In many cases, the descendants of emigrants living outside Italy could still claim these properties.

Beware!

Over the years, descendants of Italian emigrants have contacted us for help and advice. They are trying to find their ancestors’ property in Italy. Sadly, in some cases, people have spent considerable time and substantial amounts of money before contacting us.

We have heard about people receiving letters from organisations asking for an upfront fee and promising help with locating and retrieving an unclaimed Italian property.

Needless to say, many people never hear anything once they have paid the fee. So, if you get a letter like this, be cautious. Look up the company and check credentials before you part with any money.

Seek qualified help with unclaimed Italian property

In the first instance, legitimate researchers will seek unclaimed Italian property through sources made available under freedom of information laws. For example, since 2014, the Italian Tax Authority has made it possible for the public to search online for land registry records and titles. You will need to register an account, then supply information such as:

– Name of presumed owner, even if deceased (maiden name, if female).

– Exact town of birth in Italy.

– Name of father of the presumed owner.

– Date of Birth (year) of the presumed owner (records only available post 1880).

Some people try to take a DIY approach. However interpreting search results can however make this difficult. In addition, land registry results may not always be accurate. They could, for example, be out of date or show the name of a previous owner.

If you know, or believe that your family has unclaimed property in Italy and you need help, make sure you engage the services of reputable and experienced professionals.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law with particular expertise in real estate, residency, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like to discuss your situation, we are here to help. Please get in touch with us.

Italian Property Services. Background Checks

Check the legalities before you start viewing Italian properties

You’ve seen a number of Italian properties online that you really like. You want to book flights to Italy, organise a rental car and accommodation to see the properties for yourself. But, how do you know if the properties you’ve set your heart on seeing are legally safe? Use our Italian property services. We can check the legalities before you decide whether it’s worth viewing.

Pre-purchase Italian property services

We can provide an independent and professional pre-purchase property background check. It’s simple. You give us the list of properties you want to view, we check all the legal details.

That way, you can save time and money as well as avoid problems such as properties with shared title deeds, other legal and financial complications, adverse possession or planning permission issues.

Knowing exactly where you stand before you view properties, you increase your chance of finding the right property first time. This prevents wasted trips and the expense of repeat visits and false starts.

Pre-sales Italian property services

We can also provide a pre-sales background check service for owners preparing to put their Italian property on the real estate market. Ensuring you have all the legal details in place as part of your property sales package offers vendors a competitive advantage when they market their property.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law with particular expertise in real estate, residency, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like to talk to us about out Italian property services, please get in touch with us.

 

You may also find our Guide to Buying Italian. Guide to Selling Italian Property and Property Buying Checklist useful. We also have a number of info videos which aim to help you avoid pitfalls when buying and selling Italian property.

First Property Purchases in Italy. Fiscal Benefits And Rules

Tax benefits for first property purchases are contingent on transferring residence

Property buyers in Italy often decide to take advantage of tax reductions available for first property purchases. These consist of a reduced registration tax of 2%, a
fixed cadastral tax of €50 and a fixed mortgage tax of €50.

Delaying transfer of residence other than for force majeure means losing first property purchase benefits

To benefit from fiscal reductions, buyers must transfer their residence to the municipality where the property is located. This transfer must take place within 18 months of signing the deed of sale. Missing the residence transfer deadline entails the loss of tax benefits.

Delays in transferring  residence may also involve a hefty fine unless there is an extraordinary event or circumstance that constitutes a force majeure. Examples of a force majeure event might be an earthquake, seaquake, flood, landslide. In general, an event beyond anyone’s control, which renders the property uninhabitable.

Buyers must prove force majeure to retain benefits of first time property purchases

In judgement n. 864, dated 19th January 2016, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that the purchaser should not lose the fiscal benefits granted to first time property purchases.

However, this is only applicable where a purchaser is able to prove that failure to comply with the 18-month residence transfer deadline is with cause. In other words, the delay is justifiable because of an unavoidable and unpredictable event.

Summing up then. In order to maintain fiscal benefits related to first-time property purchases, a delay in transfer of residence must be due to an event or circumstance beyond the control of the buyer. As such, the buyer must prove that the delay is unavoidable and unpredictable. If transfer is due to a general impediment, the purchaser loses fiscal benefits.

Finally …

Property buying in Italy is a serious investment for most people and, often the fulfilment of a dream. Navigating Italian real estate laws and local customs can be complex. For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our Guide to Buying Property in Italy. If you would like to discuss your situation or, if we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

De Tullio Law Firm provides specialist legal advice in all areas of Italian law. Our particular expertise is in cross-border property transactions and inheritance matters in Italy.

 

We also have a number of info videos on the subject of how to buy Italian property safely.

No Certificate of Habitability for An Italian Property?

Buyers can back out of a sale if there is no certificate of habitability

A certificate of habitability or certificato di abitabilità in Italian, attests that a property is legally habitable. The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that buyers can refuse to sign the final deed of sale if a residential property has no certificate of habitability. (Court of Cassation., section II, 26th November 2015-8th February 2016, n. 2438).

Property owners obtain a certificato di abitabilità from their local municipality. Local municipalities should check that a property and its systems comply with health, safety and building regulations. In other words that the property is up to code. In addition, municipal authorities should check that the property complies with planning permission.

A certificate of habitability is also useful for obtaining utility connections and municipal services such as refuse collection.

The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation has ruled that buyers can back out of a purchase if a municipality refuses to issue a certificate of habitability.

The responsibility to provide a certificate of habitability lies with the vendor of an Italian property

This is pursuant to article 1477,  paragraph 3, of the Italian Civil Code. Where there is a delay or a failure to supply the certificato di abitabilità, there is a clear case of non-execution of a contractual obligation (breach of contract). In order to remedy this, the purchaser may request a reduction in the sales price, or request a refund of deposits. A purchaser may also decide to back out of the transaction.

Where there is no certificate of habitability, a buyer can still buy the property. However, the buyer must expressly consent to the lack of certification. In addition, the lack of certification must be included in the notarial deed of sale.

Due Diligence

While the vendor is responsible for supplying a certificato di abitabilità, the onus is on the buyer to verify its existence. Buyers should receive the certificate before completion. It should form part of the buyer’s legal due diligence.

It is also vital to check that the certificate pertains to the entire property, not just part of it. While the issuing municipality will check land registry plans, if the owner has undertaken any unauthorised work on the property, this may not appear in plans.

Not having a certificate of habitability can have long term repercussions

A vendor’s failure to provide a certificate of habitability represents a liability for buyers. Purchasers will need to obtain a certificate following the purchase. However, this is not always possible. Properties with no certificate of habitability have a lower market value. Purchasers should therefore be aware that not having a certificate will have repercussions on the resale price and saleability.

Finally …

If you are looking at a real estate investment in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property purchasing journey. We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on their Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.

You may like to read about the preliminary contract or you may like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.

Italian Probate Solicitors in Italy

The role of an Italian probate solicitor

A probate solicitor in Italy is a lawyer who specialises in Italian inheritance law.

A probate solicitor in Italy assists clients with the execution of a will and the legal procedures relating to Italian inheritance matters.

Engaging the services of a competent and knowledgeable Italian inheritance lawyer simplifies the administration of an estate.

Italian probate solicitors assist with collecting all the documentation relating to property, assets and or land. Engaging a lawyer speeds up the identification and location of the beneficiaries entitled to the estate of the deceased.

An Italian solicitor specialised in Italian inheritance procedures can also help with certified translations of international documents. Appointing a local notary is also a role that a lawyer can perform. A lawyer can also liaise with the relevant tax authorities to ensure that that assets are transferred to the name of the entitled beneficiaries.

Italian inheritance law is complex. A specialist probate solicitor in Italy can support you with your estate planning

An Italian probate solicitor has a thorough understanding of the Italian inheritance procedure. A lawyer can therefore advise whether there are any claims or rights to assets and or properties according to Italian Inheritance law.

Likewise, a lawyer can conduct searches for properties, titles, deeds and records. Plus a lawyer can obtain an appraisal or a survey of a property. It may be necessary to get a valuation of the deceased’s estate in order to determine if the deceased had any outstanding debts or liabilities.

In Italy beneficiaries must formally accept or renounce an inheritance. A lawyer can provide advice regarding the procedures and the options available according to Italian law.

In addition, a lawyer will provide legal support if you need to search for a will, or challenge a will in court. Sometimes international wills conflict with Italian legislation. If you need help with registering an inherited property in the name of the heirs or assistance selling inherited properties and assets, a specialist Italian inheritance lawyer can also assist.

An Italian probate solicitor is also able to calculate estate tax.

Where the estate includes bank accounts, a solicitor can help release the deceased’s accounts ensuring the funds.

Finally …

Italian inheritance is a complex matter. In addition, if you own assets in more than one country, this can further compound the complexity. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

 

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

For more information about Italian succession and inheritance, you may find our Italian Succession Guide useful. You may also be interested in watching our inheritance info videos.

Property Leaseback Scheme in Italy

Italian property leaseback scheme: buying a house in instalments

In 2016, the Italian Stability Law introduced a property leaseback scheme. In effect, this allows buyers to purchase an Italian property without a mortgage.

The property leaseback scheme is available to those whose annual income does not exceed 55,000 Euro. and who do not already own another property.

As this is a financial product, only banks and leasing companies offer property leaseback contracts. The bank or leasing company commits to buy, or to build, a property on behalf of a client, who then becomes the property lessee. The lender therefore owns the property and the lessee has the right to use the property. The lessee pays of an initial instalment and a monthly rent thereafter.

Residence rules apply to the property leaseback scheme

The lessee must be resident at the property. This means the lessee or the lessee’s family must live at the property and use it as their main residence. The lessee must take up residence at the property within one year of taking possession of the property.

Costs and buy back rights

Annual interest payments and fees apply to the Italian property leaseback scheme. These are calculated on the basis of the property purchase price and the duration of the leaseback contract.

When the leaseback contract expires, the client can exercise the right to buy the property through payment of a final instalment. This final payment is established at the outset of the leaseback contract. If the client has a change of heart, the lessee can relinquish the property without any penalty payments.

If the lessee is unable to make the monthly rent because of a loss of employment, there is a one-off right to suspend payments. Rent suspension lasts for a maximum period of twelve months.

Tax incentives to promote uptake of property leaseback

The 2016 Stability law also introduced a series of tax incentives on both direct and indirect taxes. This aims to boost the uptake of the property leaseback scheme.

More specifically, people under the age of 35, can benefit from income tax deductions in the form of a 19% deduction on expenses incurred for leaseback rents, as well as related ancillary costs. This is available for an annual sum not higher than €8.000. In addition, lessees under the age of 35 can benefit from a 19% deduction on the buy back cost, if the lessee decides to exercise the right to buy the property. This benefit is applicable to sums not exceeding € 20,000.

People over 35 years of age can also benefit from income tax incentives in the property leaseback scheme. A 19% deduction on expenses incurred for leaseback rents, as well as related ancillary costs. This is applicable to an annual sum not higher than €4.000. A 19% deduction on the buy back cost is also available should the lessee decide to exercise the right to buy the property. This benefit is available on sums not exceeding Euro 10,000.

Finally …

The key to making your Italian property project as safe and smooth as possible is to appoint a legal team that speaks your language. De Tullio Law Firm has a thorough understanding of Italian property law and decades of experience managing all types of Italian property transactions. Get in touch with us: info@detulliolawfirm.com

You may also like to read about the Italian buy to rent scheme. We also have a range of info videos about Italian property transactions that might be of interest.

Italian Mortgage Process. Can Foreign Nationals Get A Mortgage in Italy?

At De Tullio Law Firm, we specialise in Italian property law.

Our clients often ask if foreign nationals can get a mortgage in Italy to purchase a property. In this article, we explore the Italian Mortgage process.

In principle, non-Italian nationals can obtain a mortgage in Italy. However, in recent years, bank policies on lending to non-Italians have changed.

Our advice is to shop around the banks to see who will lend to you. You should also check how much you can borrow based on the value of the property you are looking at buying.

Do your homework. Look carefully at repayment terms and conditions and also consider currency exchange implications. Some banks may offer mortgages to non-Italian nationals either in Euros or USD.

In addition, you should factor in associated costs. This could include mortgage application fees, broker’s fees, mortgage tax, property valuation / surveyor’s fees, notary’s fees, insurance and, translation fees. If you do not speak Italian, by law, you will need a translator.

The whole process, from mortgage application to the release of funds should take between eight to twelve weeks.

The Italian Mortgage process for foreign nationals

You will need to prove you are financially solvent in accordance with the mortgage provider’s procedures. Once complete, you can submit your application for the mortgage.

Thereafter, the mortgage provider will conduct a property compliance check. This involves the mortgage provider’s surveyor inspecting the property and submitting a survey report to the mortgage provider.

Assuming the surveyor’s  report meets the mortgage provider’s requirements, you will need to appoint a notary to carry out title deed checks. Once the relevant checks have been performed, the notary will submit a report detailing the findings to the mortgage provider. If the mortgage provider is satisfied with the notary’s report, you should then receive final mortgage approval.

Funds will be released on or around the date that you, the mortgage provider and the vendor have agreed as the sale completion date. You will need to sign the deed of sale for the property and your mortgage agreement at the same time, in front of a notary. The vendor will receive the funds as a cashier’s cheque at the same time as the sale completion, or within a matter of days – as soon as the title has been transferred to the Land Registry.

Finally …

It is worth noting that if the current owner of the property already has a mortgage and, if after looking into it carefully, the terms and conditions of the existing mortgage satisfy you, it might be interesting to take over that mortgage as it could potentially save you some costs and or fees. Our advice however would be to seek independent legal advice before committing yourself.

If you would like to discuss your personal situation,get in touch for a free consultation. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.