What you absolutely must understand before you buy a property in Italy!

What you absolutely must understand before you buy a property in Italy!

before you buy a property in Italy

When you visit a country for a holiday the cultural differences are charming and exciting and ultimately do not affect your life. This changes dramatically when you move to, or invest financially, in that country.

You may have already bought a property in your own country. Maybe you are English and the estate agent passed all relevant information to your lawyer to process the purchase, maybe you are American and your independent buying agent was fully qualified to deal with the process and very aware of the ease with which litigation takes place in the USA. In both cases, the most risk free and secure method for you, as a buyer has become the assumed and probably the only way in which you can purchase that property. We take for granted that our interests are so well protected that it is very difficult to unknowingly make a mistake. Read more

Review of Italian and EU Divorce Law

An introduction to Italian and EU Divorce Law

Many of our clients, friends and family members are part of a cross-cultural relationship and for the most part it is an enriching and beautiful experience but it can also difficult to manage. When it comes to marriage and children it is wise to speak to experts both for emotional support and legal support. Regrettably, international separations and divorces are becoming more common. Italian and EU Divorce Law

Obviously, people don’t enter in to married life thinking about where the best location for a divorce would be. However, where couples choose to divorce can have a major impact on both parties’ financial health, so getting it right is very important. Delays in deciding this could result in a disastrous outcome.

Changes to Italian Divorce Law

In May, 2015 Italy introduced the so-called ‘quickie divorce’ law, which cut the amount of time it takes to get a divorce from three years to as little as six months. The new Italian legislation cuts the time it takes to get a divorce to six months in uncontested cases and a year in contested cases.

While the new law still retains a two-step process – separation and divorce – there are three important changes:

  1. In the case of separazione consensuale – consensual separation – requested by both partners, the period of legal separation is now six months. After the six-month separation, which begins once the couple has filed an application for separation in court, the couple may file for divorce.
  2. In the case of separazione giudiziale – judicial separation – only one partner is requesting a divorce, or the couple contest issues such as child custody, division of assets (including property) or alimony arrangements, the parties have to wait 12 months to file for divorce following a court application for separation. If the procedure of separation is still pending following the 12-month period, perhaps for example because parties cannot agree on financial and other aspects of the separation, each party will be entitled to file for divorce. In this case, the processes for separation and divorce will be merged and handled by the judge appointed to rule over the judicial separation.
  3. The new law is applicable to separation cases that are currently pending. So, those who have already filed for separation will benefit from shorter divorce procedure times.

The European Union Divorce Law

The EU Divorce Law Pact or Rome III Regulation aims at implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation.  Essentially, this EU divorce law allows expat couples in Italy – and mixed marriage couples, where one partner is Italian and the other not – to choose either the divorce laws of Italy, or the laws of the country where the couple previously lived or the country of their nationality. The decision of which country’s law will apply, needs to be made before divorce proceedings begin.

The Rome III Regulation was adopted by 15 countries including Italy. The UK opted out – so

If a couple does not stipulate an applicable country law, divorce procedures will be governed by Italian courts and legislation if a couple is ordinarily resident in Italy or one partner is resident in Italy and starts proceedings here. However, if the other partner, for example, returns to the UK for six months or more and starts proceedings there before Italian proceedings begin, UK courts and law will govern the divorce.

Another aspect to consider in the choice of divorce law is matrimonial regimes. UK courts often split assets owned by a couple 50/50, whereas Italian courts look more closely at what belongs to whom. This is because when they get married, couples in Italy may choose between a matrimonial regime of shared ownership, comunione dei beni or separate ownership separazione dei beni of their worldly goods in the event of divorce or death.

Unless otherwise stipulated in an agreement, which can be made at the start of a marriage or at any time during a marriage, comunione dei beni is regarded as the default matrimonial regime. Expat couples married elsewhere but resident in Italy are regarded as being married according to this regime. In the comunione dei beni regime, property acquired by the couple during their marriage, whether individually or together, forms part of the couples’ shared ownership. In the event of a divorce, these assets will be split 50/50.

However, there are exceptions. For example, property acquired by a partner prior to the marriage, or property acquired after the marriage as a gift or an inheritance would not be split in the case of a divorce. The choice of matrimonial regimes can therefore have an important impact on choice of applicable law.

Consider the case of an English couple who married in the UK 12 years ago. Since then, the wife has inherited a significant sum of money as well as a house in Italy from her parents. 4 years ago, the husband persuaded the wife that they should move to Italy to live in the wife’s inherited property. Then, after 12 months, the husband moved back to the UK where he issued divorce proceedings. The UK court gave the husband 50% of all the couples’ assets. The Italian courts would have treated the inherited assets as belonging solely to the wife.

Each case is different. There are many issues that need to be taken in to account and at a very stressful time. Which applicable law to choose, requires very careful thought and consideration. An Experienced lawyer will be familiar with cross-border cases, and the complexities which make these divorces so difficult.

Please note, any statement made in this review is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not formal legal advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.

Contact us today. We can help.

Italy – concrete proof that nationwide building regulation reform is on the way

Since taking office in 2014, Marianna Madia, Italy’s Minister of Public Administration and Simplification has, amongst other things, been working on introducing a set of standard building regulations. The aim is to simplify and harmonise rules and requirements for building practices across the whole of Italy.regolamento

Each of Italy’s 8 thousand municipalities currently have their own building regulations and many are outdated. Rome’s date back to 1934 so a reform is not only necessary, it is also urgent. Every Italian municipality’s building regulations have different definitions; even the notion of surface and the way it is calculated varies from one municipality to another. This plethora of building regulations across Italy is costly and they cause chaos and uncertainty. Read more

Defects and non-compliances in Italian property purchases

Defects and non-compliancesItalian property purchases – What’s the legal position when it comes to defects and non-compliances?

During our legal careers, my father and I have dealt with all sorts of seemingly improbable scenarios. The couple from Scotland who discovered they had bought a property that didn’t actually legally belong to the vendor. The German family, who arrived in Tuscany for their first holiday at their recently purchased dream property to find the previous owner’s brother and family in residence. It transpired that the brother was a co-owner of the property, who had no idea the property had been ‘sold’. Read more

Selling properties in Italy? What you should know.

20Selling properties in Italy can often be a difficult and lengthy process, so it is important to make things easier for yourself by preparing and understanding what’s involved. The first stage is to put the property on the market, either as a private sale or though an estate agency.

If you are considering appointing an Italian real estate agent, it is important to ensure that the agent is qualified and registered with the local Chamber of Commerce in full compliance with Italian law. Read more

Buying a property in Italy can be a nightmare…

41Property purchase in Italy is a serious investment and often the fulfilment of a dream. Italy’s unique real estate laws and local customs all lead to the recommendation of  having the right team of advisors in place to make your experience successful.

A couple from Bristol found a house in the Abbruzzo that they wanted to buy. The local real estate agent, that the couple had engaged, got them to sign a Proposta di Acquisto (purchase offer). Read more

Italian supreme court approves adding TV licence to household electricity bills

Following a review in mid-April, the Italian Council of State has now approved the move to add the tv licence fee, for State broadcaster RAI, to household electricity bills.

The law of stability 2016 heralded a reduction in  the annual RAI license fee to €100 euros from the previous fee of €113,50.222

The new legislation introduces the presumption of ownership of a tv set in residences wherever electricity is installed.

From 2017, tv licence payments with electricity bills will take place in ten monthly instalments, from January to October of each year. Read more

Do you, or your family, own Italian assets?

Italian assetsIf you, or your family, own Italian assets, it is advisable to research and prepare for the future of those Italian assets. You can watch our short video on this subject here: http://bit.ly/1VDqOnY

Inheritance and probate laws vary from country to country and it is unlikely that the Italian assets will be subject to the same procedures and laws as the assets at home. Read more

Mortgages for non-Italian nationals

101I am often asked about the possibility of non-Italian nationals getting a mortgage to purchase an Italian property. I thought it might be interesting to explore the subject in this blog post.

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

My advice is to shop around the banks to see who will lend to you and how much you can borrow based on the value of the property you are looking at buying. Read more