Keep your money safe
On 29th August 2017, Italian legislation saw the introduction of holding accounts. The legislation governing payment for the purchase of Italian residential and commercial real estate is part of the Italian Law of Competition.
The law aims to provide better protection to both property buyers and sellers.
Holding accounts are applicable to funds for the completion of the purchase of Italian property. Deposits connected with a reservation offer and preliminary contracts are not subject to this legislation.
The buyer and/ vendor must request their chosen notary to use a holding account. In other words the notary doesn’t automatically use holding accounts.
In addition, the buyer can request the notary to keep funds in a bonded account. Again, the onus is on the buyer to specifically request that the notary use bonded holding accounts. As this may generate problems with the seller, we would recommend that the preliminary contract include a clause that all parties authorise the notary to hold completion funds in bonded holding accounts.
How do holding accounts work?
The buyer acquires legal ownership of the property at the signing of the deed of sale. However, by using a holding account, the notary will delay payment until after registration of the deed.
Following signature by all parties to the transaction, the notary has 30 days to register the deed of sale with the relevant land registry authorities.
Once registration of the deed takes place, the buyer can be certain that the purchase has been completed smoothly. Tranfer of funds to the vendor can then take place.
Keeping funds in holding accounts therefore provides protection to the buyer between signing the deed of sale and its registration.
Between signing and registering the deed, adverse entries pertaining to the property can come to light. Issues might include outstanding debts, mortgages, encumbrances, court applications for seizures and foreclosures.
The Law of Competition states that when purchasing property, all outstanding payments by the buyer to the seller should be kept in dedicated holding accounts belonging to a notary. This sum also includes any amounts the vendor may require to settle liabilities. For instance, the vendor may still be paying off a mortgage on the property. In this case, the buyer would pay the entire balance of payment for the property into the notary’s holding account. However, a part of this will serve to redeem and cancel the vendor’s mortgage lender once the purchase is complete.
Can all notaries hold money?
The Law of Competition stipulates that a notary must have holding accounts in which the notary can receive funds from clients for the delayed payment of real estate property.
A notary has no entitlement to any interest accruing to these holding accounts. Nor can a notary use funds for any other purpose than the payment of a particular property.
Furthermore, if a notary has debts, creditors can not foreclose on money deposited in holding accounts. Should the notary die, any funds in holding accounts do not constitute part of the notary’s estate. And in the event of death, funds do not form part of the notary’s matrimonial property regime.
If you are looking for further information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might find our comprehensive guide helpful, or if you need independent legal advice, please get in touch for a free consultation.
You may also find Buying Property in Italy useful.