Frequently, property buyers in Italy decide to take advantage of tax reductions available for first-time property purchases, namely a registration tax of 2%, a fixed cadastral tax of €50 and a fixed mortgage tax of €50. To benefit from fiscal reductions, purchasers must transfer their residence to the Municipality in which the property is located, within 18 months of signing the deed of sale. Missing the transfer deadline entails the loss of tax benefits and heavy fines 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, any event deemed to be beyond man’s control, which renders the property uninhabitable. Read more
The right to back out of signing the final deed of sale if there is no certificate of habitability
Last November the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that buyers can refuse to enter into the final deed of sale if the residential property they have promised to buy has no certificate of habitability (Court of Cassation., section II, 26th November 2015-8th February 2016, n. 2438).
The Certificate of Habitability certifies the suitability of a residential property as being fit for human habitation. It is issued by the competent municipal offices following verification that the building and its systems comply with health, safety and structural regulations. According to law, prior to issuing the certificate of habitability, the competent authorities should also verify that the building complies with planning permission.
Following purchase of a property in Italy, owners will need the certificate of habitability to get utilities and municipal services for their property. Read more
Inheritance matters. There is a gentle parody currently doing the rounds. Allegedly, the late lamented Italian novelist, philosopher and interpretive semiotician Umberto Eco has left a Will that neither his lawyers nor beneficiaries can decipher.
Obviously a Will should be accurate, concise and straightforward. Even if your life is highly complex, an experienced lawyer should be able to make sense of your legacies. Read more
Italian Real Estate Leaseback Scheme: buying a house in instalments
The real estate leaseback scheme is a financial product for those whose annual income does not exceed 55,000 Euro and are in a position to take advantage of first home benefits, in other words, people who do not already own another property.
The contract can only be entered into by individuals and banks or leasing companies. 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 property is therefore owned by the lender, while the lessee has the right to use the property upon payment of an initial instalment and a monthly rent thereafter. Read more
At What Stage of the Buying Process Should You Contact a Property Lawyer in Italy?
People planning to buy an Italian property frequently ask me at what point of the buying process they should involve a lawyer.
On the one hand, people worry that if they contact a lawyer too soon, they will end up wasting their time or incur unnecessary additional costs when they might not actually proceed with a property purchase immediately. Read more
Buying properties in Italy is a major decision. Proceed with caution. Do your research. Always get independent advice.
Continued slow economic growth in Italy is helping to keep property prices low and therefore attractive for those looking to invest. Interest rates show no sign of substantially increasing in 2016 either in The UK or in the Eurozone. 2016 is therefore looking to be another year when many Britons will purchase an Italian property.
Each year, I am engaged by clients whose Italian property purchase started out as an impulse decision, driven more by emotional than rational considerations. Unfortunately, at some point during the purchase, the dream has turned in to a nightmare. All sorts of additional costs are incurred; costs which could have been completely avoided if legal advice had been sought prior to purchase. Read more
Action should be taken now to benefit from the new 2015 European Inheritance Rules. According to The European Commission some 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU each year, estimated to be worth in excess of €120 billion. As it stands, many countries in the EU, including Italy, have laws governing ‘forced heirships’ along with different opinions as to whether inheritance is dealt with under local law, or the law of the nationality of the deceased. To somewhat solve this confusion and prevent disputes, effective August 17th 2015 new rules will allow individuals across participating EU member states to choose which country jurisdiction will apply to the devolution of estates. Read more
Italian and EU Divorce Law
Across much of the European Union, marriages between couples of different nationalities, are on the rise. In addition, the number of married couples living as expats in another EU country is increasing. Unfortunately, this means that international separations and divorces are becoming more common.
Obviously, people don’t enter into married life thinking about where the best location for a divorce would be; married couples are unlikely to be interested in thinking about this while they remain happy together, and couples may not be able to agree on the appropriate jurisdiction if they are about to be or are already separated. However, where couples choose to divorce can have a major impact on both parties’ financial health, so getting it right is crucial. Read more
Italian succession law
How does it work?
Italian succession law is based on the Roman Law principle which gives some protection to close members of the family, partially limiting the right of the testator to dispose of his/her own assets. Testamentary Succession is defined as the assignment of the hereditary assets in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian Will whereas in the absence of a Will inheritance is devolved following the principles of Legal Succession.
Where there is no will, succession law gives rights to a number of legitimate heirs who have rights to the assets of the deceased. Such heirs are the spouse of the deceased and the relatives identified by the law starting from the closer ones until the 6th degree of connection.
Italian succession law reserves a significant quota of the inheritance to very close relatives: spouse, ascendants and descendants are all defined as “forced heirs”, meaning that the testator cannot exclude them with their Will. When drafting an Italian will, the testator is free to dispose of a part of his assets known as “disposable quota”. This allows the testator to assign only part of their assets to strangers or non-relatives.
Succession law is based on unity of inheritance which highlights the difference between property and non-property assets: the law of the last domicile or citizenship of the deceased party is applicable to non-property assets, while the law of the country where the property is located is applied to property assets. Therefore, properties in different countries will be regulated by the law of the country where each property is located. The succession procedure is deemed to be closed when all assets, rights and pending payments have been transferred to the rightful heirs either by mutual agreement or as consequence of judicial proceedings. Agreement of inheritance is then produced in written form and signed by the relevant parties.