Usucapion

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Usucapion

‘Limitation of actions’

Usucapion (usucapione) is a legal procedure which can give you ownership of a property in Italy without need of any specific title such as a deed of purchase or a Will and without any agreement with the owner of the property. Usucapione pictures one legal situation which is connected with possession of a property which must be without violence. This possession must take place, with public knowledge. After a number of years which can be 10 or 20 depending on the circumstances, you can obtain the legal title and become the legal owner of this property; this happens even if you aware the owner of the property is someone else.Usucapion

You become owner of a property belonging to someone else if you possess the asset i.e. you make use of it somehow for a period of time and if you behave, during this time, as if you were the owner of this property.

On the other hand, the true owner should have behaved by not showing any interest in this property, letting the property be implicitly used by another party; typically someone moving abroad, not taking care of this property and neglecting it.

What is the purpose of this? Usucapion has the legal purpose of giving certainty to legal relationships giving a privilege to someone not being the owner, who nevertheless takes care of it. In relation to the owner not taking care of it and neglecting it completely.

20 years for real estate assets, acquired in bad faith. This starts from the moment of possession. While this becomes 10 years if you obtain possession in good faith. This period of time must be continuous with no interruptions, in order to convert this factual condition (possession) into ownership it is necessary to obtain a court decision to declare that usucapione occurred. It is a ‘factual’ condition and must be recognized in court. You can give evidence in any way but this typically takes place through witnesses. The peaceful possession taking place throughout time without interruptions can give title of ownership of a property. However it is necessary to obtain a court decision declaring usucapione is taking place.

Therefore if you own property in Italy which you have neglected for sometime it is advisable to consult an attorney to prevent the risks connected with usucapione.

Please note, any statement made in this article 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.

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Italian inheritance law regulation

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What are the principles at the basis of Italian inheritance law?

The law n.218 of the 31st of May 1995 regulates the field of Italian inheritance law in the framework of international private law.

The succession rules are determined on the basis of the national law of the deceased party at the moment of his death.italian inheritance law

The Italian legislator adopted the principle of “unity of inheritance”. This principle differs substantially from the one adopted in common law countries. It is based on the separation between non-property assets and property assets: to non-property assets the law of the last domicile or last citizenship of the deceased party is applicable, and to property assets the so called “lex rei sitae” (law of the country where the property is located). One of the most important consequences is that, if the hereditary asset includes properties located in different states, the succession of each single property could be regulated by the law of the country where the property is located.

The law regulating the succession is the national law of the deceased at the time of his death. The Italian rules on conflict of laws consider the possibility that the national law of a deceased foreigner might defer to the law of another country. Such deferment is effective only if the law of the third State accepts the deferment. Here is a practical example: if a British citizen before his death left some properties in Italy, the succession will be regulated by the British law. But following the British “conflict law” the law applicable to properties should be the “lex rei sitae (law of the country where the property is located), that is/viz., the Italian inheritance law.

The testator has the right to submit his succession to the law of the country where he resides. Such choice has to be formally expressed in a will and shall not be prejudicial of the rights that the Italian law provides for the so called legittimari” ( members of the family who have the right to receive a fixed part of the property of the deceased even against the will) who are resident in Italy at the moment of death of the deceased.

It is highly advisable to draft an Italian will assisted by your Italian  inheritance lawyer in order to limit the consequences of the “legal succession”. The “legal succession” applies where the deceased has not left a will, in such case the Italian law determines which relatives of the deceased have a right to succeed (primarily the spouse, the legitimate and natural children, and the ascendants). In case of lack of heirs, according to the Italian inheritance law, the hereditary assets present in Italy would be assigned to the Italian State.

Please note, any statement made in this article 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.

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What is a certificate of occupancy?

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Certificate of occupancy in transactions of properties in Italy

The Certificate of Occupancy (also called 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 stability regulations. According to law, prior to issuing the certificate of occupancy, the competent authorities should also verify that the building complies with planning permission.

The case law of the Supreme Court is unanimous in stating that in real estate transactions the certificate of habitability is one of the documents that the vendor must deliver to the buyer before completion. As a matter of fact the buyer has the full right to verify that the property is suitable to satisfy his legitimate interest, that is the usability and marketability of the property. The above mentioned certificate can be considered an essential requirement of the building because it has direct effects on the legal use of the property as stipulated in the contract.

Unless otherwise stipulated in contractual agreements, the responsibility to provide the certificate of habitability belongs to the vendor. In case of delay or failure to deliver a certificate of habitability, there is a clear case of non execution of a contractual obligation (breach of contract). A recent decision by the Supreme Court states that, “The vendor of a property intended for residential use has a duty to deliver to the buyer the certificate of habitability without which the property is unmarketable”. (Cass. 23 of January 2009, n. 1701).

In case of absence of certificate of habitability the property can nevertheless be transferred with a notarial deed of sale but only with the buyer’s express, written consent. Verifying the existence of the certificate of habitability before completion of the purchase of a property should certainly be part of the legal due diligence.

Please note, any statement made in this article 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.

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Italian real estate attorneys and Italian inheritance attorneys

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