Illegal Construction in Italy (abuso edilizio)

Do you own an Italian property that completely or partially lacks planning permission?

Illegal construction in Italy is not uncommon. The Office for Italian Statistics (ISTAT), estimates that nationally, some 20% of Italian properties are completely illegal builds.

On top of these statistics, many properties are partially illegal. For example, an outbuilding or extension that doesn’t have planning permission.

Before buying any Italian property, you should conduct planning searches in the land registry and municipal planning records. It’s crucial to check that the whole property has all the relevant building consents.

If you are building a property in Italy, you should make sure that you have all the relevant permits and authorisations.

We advise that you seek independent legal advice to avoid the risks of prosecution and buying a property that is later unsaleable.

What is illegal construction?

Illegal construction, “edilizia abusiva” in Italian, is a crime.

If you make changes to a property without relevant consent or, you carry out building work which does not comply with permits, you are breaking the law.

Building work is also illegal if notification of commencement of work notice is missing (comunicazione di inizio lavori, CIL). This is a formal notification by the owner of the property to the municipality regarding the intention to make a change to the internal layout of a building.

There are several categories of illegal construction in Italy

Construction of an entire building without a building permit. This also applies to buildings on land in non-building zones.

An extension to an existing property without a building permit.

Work that diverges from the building permit issued.

A change of use to the property, for instance from business to residential use.

Any internal work without a required CIL notification.

Who is accountable for illegal construction work?

Those at risk of prosecution for Italian planning violations are the person named on a building permit if work is non-compliant with said permit.

Whoever commissioned the work. This may not necessarily be the property owner.

The builder or person who carried out the illegal work or the project manager may also be held liable.

It is also worth noting that if a new owner either commissioned or instigated the vendor to carry out certain illegal work prior to purchasing the property, both parties may be liable.

What are the risks of illegal construction in Italy?

The first possible consequence of commissioning illegal construction is the imposition of an administrative sanction. These vary according to the type of illegal work carried out. Possible administrative sanctions include a demolition order. This would entail removing all illegal building work and restoring the property to its original state.

If the municipality does not issue a demolition order, it may sequester the property and the owner will be given a fine. This will equate to the value of the illegal work or the estimated market value of the work.

Work that diverges from a permit or work done without a CIL notification is subject to a fine. Fines start at 516 Euros. However they can equate to twice the increase in the estimated market value of the property based on the work done.

Provided work complies with planning and building regulations in force at the time the work was carried out, it may be possible to apply for retrospective building permission.

The criminal consequences of illegal construction in Italy

Illegal building work is a criminal act in Italy. As such, it is therefore potentially punishable by arrest and a custodial sentence. More frequently however punishment involves hefty fines.

The penalties vary, depending on the type of crime committed and are in addition to previously mentioned administrative sanctions. More specifically, in the event of non-compliance with building regulations, town-planning laws and building permits, the fine is exclusively pecuniary – up to 10,329 Euros.

In the case where building work differs from a building permit, offenders could face a custodial sentence of up to two years plus a fine ranging from 5,164 to 51,645.00 Euros. Likewise if construction lacks a permit or, despite a work suspension order, work has continued.

Illegal construction on land with no zoning for building purposes can involve a custodial sentence of up to two years and a fine of between 15,493 and 51,64.00 Euros. The same penalty is applicable where illegal building work has been carried out in areas with historical, artistic, archaeological, landscape and/or environmental restrictions.

Finally …

Property buying in Italy is a serious investment. Italy has unique real estate laws and local customs. We recommend having the right team of advisors in place to make your purchasing experience successful. Should you need further information or help concerning illegal construction, please contact us.

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Renovating A Property in Italy. A Brief Guide

Before renovating a property in Italy, do your homework

Renovating a property in Italy means making sure all the work meets legal requirements. Otherwise, you run the risk of criminal prosecution.

Renovating a property in Italy - GuideRenovating a property in Italy is a complex process requiring a wide range of competencies. Obtaining legal assistance will make the entire renovation process easier and crucially, ensure that all legal requirements are met in a timely manner.

Legal support can save you money and mitigate the risk of criminal liabilities and prosecution.

Legal due diligence

Before you buy a renovation project in Italy, it is vital to do some in-depth research about the property. This legal due diligence step verifies, amongst other things, the compliance status with municipal planning and land registry documentation.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we offer a complete range of services to assess the legal situation before you purchase a property or before you start renovation work.

Firstly, we can check that the current (de facto) condition and the official (de jure) condition of the property match all the documentation lodged with the cadastre. Secondly we can search for all the planning and building permits lodged with the Municipal Technical Office and check these are in order. Thirdly, we can ascertain from municipal records that the entire property – including any additions and outbuildings, have all the relevant planning consents.

Without the above, you will not be able to obtain authorisation to commence renovation works. Renovating the property will require that you apply for the relevant permits issued by the local municipality.

Buying to renovate

Once you are sure that the property meets legal requirements and structural specifications and if you have decided to proceed with the purchase, having a legal professional on your side will be helpful in negotiating the property price and ensuring the purchase goes smoothly.

Choose a specialist property lawyer with expertise in building law and regulations. Bear in mind that if down the line, you undertake any work that is not legally compliant, you run the risk of prosecution. In Italy this can mean a protracted, costly matter and will obviously require legal services. In the long run, it may be more cost-effective to budget legal services from the outset of your project.

Steps involved in renovating a property in Italy

Design and planning permission

Once you own the property, technical experts – a surveyor and/or an architect – assess its de facto condition and design the renovation work.

Plans must meet provisions of current legislation, with particular regard to energy efficiency and sanitation regulations.

You will also need to respect zoning and planning regulations in the design.

In order to draw up suitable tenders,  you should make a complete list of materials and finishes at the design phase.

Building quotes

Subsequently, you will need to choose a building company to carry out the work.

This step involves submitting the executive project – drawn up by your surveyor or architect – and the above-mentioned specification list of the works to at least three companies. In this way, you have a comparison to help choose the most competitive and suitable offer.

Usually, for refurbishment, there are three types of companies involved (construction, electrician, plumber).

To simplify management of the work, it is advisable to contract only one company, who will then sub-contract the work. It is vital to check that your chosen building company conforms with Italian fiscal requirements, in particular through the DURC (Documento Unico di Regolarità Contributiva), a document proving that the company makes social security contributions on behalf of its employees.

In order to avoid conflicts of interest, it is advisable to nominate a project manager unrelated to the building company.

Building contract

The next key step is to draw up a detailed contract between yourself and the building company. This is an area that requires a thorough understanding of the law. Your building contract guarantees your legal protection during and following the completion of your building work. The contract is of paramount importance, especially if you need to seek legal recourse at some point. You should ensure that your contract is legally binding and specifies the building company’s duties.

Tax incentives

It is also advisable to check what tax deductions and/or funding is available. Even if you have already started renovation work, incentives periodically become available.

Building permits and starting renovations

You will need to officially declare the property owner, project manager and building company and apply for the relevant building permit. Your local municipal technical office is responsible for providing a building permit. When you have received the relevant authorisation, building work can commence.

A Safety and Coordination Plan (Piano di Sicurezza e Coordinamento) must be drawn up pursuant to Legislative decree 81/08, and a Safety Coordinator (Coordinatore della Sicurezza in fase di Esecuzione) must be appointed to supervise the building procedure. The building company must comply with the terms specified in this document as well as draft its own Operational Safety Plan (Piano Operativo di Sicurezza, POS). All waste produced on the construction site must be properly managed and treated in compliance with local disposal laws.

Signing off

Once work is complete, you will need to have everything assessed, inspected and approved. Then the cadastral value of the property needs updating in the land registry and you can apply for a certificate of habitability.

Finally …

Are you considering renovating a property in Italy? Are you experiencing problems with a renovation project in Italy? If you would like support or further information, our legal professionals can help. We can make your project easier by guiding, advising and protecting you through the entire procedure. Reach us at info@detulliolawfirm.com.

 

You may also be interested in Building a House in Italy: a short step by step guide

Elective Residence Visa for Italy

An Elective Residence Visa allows non-EU citizens to reside in Italy

You should submit your application for an Elective Residence Visa (ERV) to the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country. For example, U.S. citizens can apply to the Italian consulates in New York, Miami, San Francisco. Canadians should apply to the Italian consulates in Toronto or Montreal.

The main requirement for obtaining an ERV is that the applicants must be able to support themselves autonomously in Italy. This must through an income unrelated to employment. Your income must be sufficient to exclude recourse to the Italian welfare system.

Applicants for an Italian ERV must be able to provide documented guarantees

According to Italian law, ERV applicants should meet two essential elements. Firstly, they must have somewhere to live in Italy. This can either be a property they own, or a secured tenancy with a contract.

Secondly, applicants must have an income stream. This should be approximately Euro 31,000 per annum. This income must continue in to the future – for the period of stay in Italy.

Verifying that an ERV applicant has somewhere to live is fairly straightforward. However, the assessment regarding adequate finances implies a so-called discretionary evaluation by the consulate.

By law, this assessment cannot be  arbitrary. In other words, the applicant must be able to see a logical explanation behind the decision-making process.

The law sets out various principles which the consulate should take into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant an ERV.

In particular, the available financial resources should be “ample”, “autonomous” and “stable”, thus the applicant should be able to sustain himself/herself without working in Italy.

The above means that financial resources should be fully accessible to the applicant. And, that funds should not be subject to unexpected, sudden fluctuations. The consulate must be able to make a reasonable assumption that an applicant’s financial resources will also exist into the future.

The applicant’s financial resources should originate from pensions, life annuities, ownership of real estate, ownership of stable economic-commercial activities or other sources of income. Income cannot however be from employment.

In the absence of any logical, valid and concrete reasons, so long as an applicant for an ERV meets the above requirements, the consulate cannot refuse to grant an ERV.

Finally …

Do you think your ERV application was wrongly rejected or do you need help with an ERV application?

The evaluation of the elements for an ERV application by the consulate is discretionary. However, as previously mentioned, it cannot be arbitrary.

Should you need further information concerning an elective residence visa or preparing your application or, if you wish to appeal the denial of an ERV, please contact us.

Usucapione (Adverse Possession)

What is Usucapione?

Usucapione is a legal method of acquiring ownership of an Italian property.

There are two essential elements to  usucapione. Firstly, material possession of the asset, acting as the owner (as opposed to someone who received the right of use from the owner, e.g., by  means of a contract). Secondly, the passage of a specific period of time.

In the context of usucapione, possession should be peaceful. That is to say, possession should not have occurred through violent or clandestine means. Possession should also be continuous and uninterrupted over time. This means that possession should not have been intermittent.

Time is the essential element in usucapione. Italian legislation provides for 20 years for properties where possession is in bad faith and for other rights concerning usufruct, right of use, easements, etc. 10 years if the property is in good faith, that is, with a registered title deed by a party who was not the real property owner;

Uninterrupted possession must occur during the above mentioned periods of time. How does the law define uninterrupted? It means that possession should not be vacant for more than one year. For example, if the owner takes back possession of his asset for more than one year, usucapione is considered interrupted.

According to case law, it is compulsory to provide clear evidence concerning the start of possession. Very often witnesses play a crucial role.

Not all assets are subject to usucapione. State-owned property and/or public assets, for example, cannot be adversely possessed.

A case of usucapione?

For years a house had sat abandoned on the outskirts of a Sicilian village. Over a period of several years, starting in 1969, Giovanni started refurbishing the property. He moved in when he’d finished the renovation. Giovanni tamed the garden. He fenced it, established a vegetable plot and fruit orchard. Giovanni also fenced in some land abutting the property, where he keeps a few goats. Although he has no documents proving his title to the property, throughout the past fifty years, Giovanni has behaved as if owns the property.

Marie Louise is an American citizen who also has an Italian passport. She has presented a claim on the property. She asserts that she inherited the property from her grandfather and that she is therefore the rightful owner.

Is Marie Louise right about her claim? Or, has Giovanni acquired the property through usucapione?

How to organise a legal case based on usucapione:

The first step is to ensure you can evidence your right, specifically to have possessed the property, “uti dominus” (as if you were the owner of the property). Examples could be that you have rented the property, executed building work, etc.

Generally speaking, the role of witnesses is crucial. It is therefore essential to contact individuals who are prepared to give evidence in court.

Obviously, documented evidence is also important (for example, receipts regarding tax payments, invoices concerning building work, etc).

Compulsory mediation

Before starting a court case, it is imperative to apply for a compulsory mediation procedure with a mediation body (Organismo di mediazione) accredited by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We recommend that you engage a lawyer to help. The application should indicate the parties involved in the procedure and the property subject to usucapione.

Where the mediation procedure results in a successful outcome, the agreement reached by the parties must authenticated in the presence of a notary public.

In case of a negative outcome from a mediation procedure, it is possible to then start legal proceedings in court.

Taking an usucapione case to court

Back to the above case regarding Marie Louise and Giovanni.

Marie Louise can sue Giovanni in court to reclaim possession and re-establish her full ownership of the property. The success of Marie Louise’s claim will depend on her ability to prove that she acquired the property by valid title and, that the property belonged to her predecessors by valid title prior to her inheriting it. In addition, if Marie Louise can prove that Giovanni’s holding has not been at the property in an uninterrupted manner or that she took proprietary action during Giovanni’s holding and therefore his acquisitive prescription is incomplete, Marie Louise may be able to reclaim possession of the property.

To challenge Marie Louise’s claim, Giovanni should use witnesses to testify that he renovated the house, fenced in the land and has worked the garden in a public, continuous and uninterrupted manner for the past fifty years. In effect he has treated the property as if he were the owner. If during the past fifty years, he has also had access to utilities (e.g., water, electricity) and has paid property taxes, Giovanni should be able to produce receipts to support his usucapione claim.

Finally …

If you own property in Italy, which you have neglected for some time, it is advisable to consult a specialist Italian property attorney to prevent any risks connected with usucapione. You can read more about usucapione or, if you would like to discuss a case, please contact us for a free consultation.

You may also be interested in Usucapione – Safeguard Your Ownership Rights

Homes for €1 in Sambuca, Sicily (Italy)

Is it true that the Italian town of Sambuca in Sicily is selling homes for the symbolic value of €1?

Homes for 1 Euro in Sambuca

To combat dwindling populations and to attract Italian and foreign investors to revitalise their areas, a number of Italian villages, towns and cities, have launched charm offensives by putting a number of houses up for sale for the symbolic sum of 1 Euro.

Dream homes for 1 Euro in Sambuca is the latest €1 property scheme in Italy. This is how the Sicilian Municipality of Sambuca is promoting tourism and highlighting depopulation issues. Sambuca is in the Province of Agrigento.

News of €1 property sales in Sambuca spread further through a CNN article on 18th January 2019.  Local officials say, “It’s not the first Italian town to lure in outsiders with tempting offers but, Sambuca is scrapping red tape to make sure any interested investors can more or less make their purchase right away”.

As opposed to other towns that are merely doing this for propaganda, this city hall owns all the homes for 1 Euro in Sambuca on sale,” says Giuseppe Cacioppo, Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councillor. “We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it in no time.”

Are there any conditions attached to the purchase of €1 properties in Sambuca?

New owners must commit to refurbishing their choice of the crumbling 40 – 150 square meter dwellings within three years. Renovation costs start at €15,000 (about $17,200). Owners will also need to cough up a €5,000 security deposit that will be returned once the remodelling is complete.

With the population dwindling, Cacioppo says the town needs outsiders to prevent it from falling into ruin. “We can’t afford to lose our lovely Arab heritage. Luckily, foreigners are lending a hand in this rescue crusade.” (Source: CNN).

1 Euro houses at auction

As with all 1 Euro house schemes around Italy, sales take place in public auction (vendita con incanto).

It’s impossible to tell what you are taking on just from looking at a few photos of a property.

In some countries house auctions are common. In Italy however, they are not. There are no legal packs, which contain essential information including official titles and searches, property information and planning permission. In effect, you are responsible for conducting property-related searches.

To avoid buying what seems like a bargain but, subsequently turns out to be a money pit, you should inspect the property before deciding to make a bid.

Finally …

While €1 properties may seem like a great opportunity, buyer beware! Conditions always apply.

There are plenty of other reasonably-priced houses in Italy without the terms and conditions attached to €1 property schemes. These properties may be a better option for you because you can undertake renovation at your own pace and on your own terms.

Before making any type of property investment in Italy, you should seek independent legal advice on matters such as ownership titles, zoning, planning, structure and conditions of sale and purchase.

If you are considering buying a property anywhere in Italy for 1 Euro, or more, please free to contact us via email or fill in our contact form.

 

You may also be interested in How to get a mortgage in Italy

Italian Property Transaction? Seek Legal Advice

Don’t Leave Your Italian Property Transaction To Chance …

Italian Property Transaction

When buying or selling a property at home, most people wouldn’t dream of doing so without the assistance of a qualified and independent lawyer. Yet in Italy, many buyers and sellers, particularly foreigners, decide not to instruct a lawyer and instead rely on an estate agent to advise them about their Italian property transaction.

Many foreign property buyers find their way to our law practice after encountering serious problems during or after their property transaction. Sadly, some have lost everything.

The reality is that buying an Italian property is an investment. You may not be familiar with the Italian language. Add to this unfamiliar legal, tax and administrative systems and procedures and you are looking at a very complex situation.

Essentially, the need for an experienced, independent lawyer is far greater for your Italian property transaction than when buying property at home.

Italian real estate agents are not qualified to provide legal advice

In many instances, an estate agency will offer to handle all the paperwork for a buyer. With registered and reputable agencies, the intentions are genuine and the conveyancing may well complete satisfactorily. However, estate agents are not trained lawyers. Many have no professional liability or indemnity insurance to cover you in case your property transaction goes wrong or if they miss something crucial.

Real estate agents act on a vendor’s behalf in an Italian property transaction

Also bear in mind that an estate agent is not independent. In fact, they have a potential conflict of interests in offering you advice. Remember that the estate agent is acting for the vendor.

The agent’s primary goal is to sell the property on the seller’s behalf in order to earn their commission. If the sale doesn’t go through because somebody spots an irregularity or a legal problem, the estate agent earns nothing. You, on the other hand, may face a potentially costly and time-consuming ordeal to sort out the issue. You may even expose yourself to prosecution.

Appoint a lawyer in your home country?

As an alternative, some clients look to instruct a lawyer in their home country. However, it is unlikely that the lawyer will have local knowledge of Italy. In addition, it is costly to fly a lawyer to Italy several times in order to conduct searches and checks and to attend completion at a notary’s office.

A lawyer overseas will in all likelihood subcontract the work to a local lawyer in Italy. This may be a lawyer who lacks experience and/ or expertise in cross border and Italian property law.

Because everything needs to go through a number of people, there will inevitably be delays with information and documentation. On top of this, both the foreign and local lawyers will expect to get paid, so in essence, you end up paying twice for the same service.

Finally …

De Tullio Law Firm specialises in Italian and cross border property, inheritance and family legal matters. We are regulated by the Italian Bar Association and a full member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts, estates and related issues.

Our knowledgeable, experienced and multilingual team of professionals manage client cases throughout Italy.

Our clients also benefit from De Tullio Law Firm’s Professional Indemnity Insurance. This is in place should something go wrong during an Italian property transaction due to negligence by our firm. Our clients can however rest assured that in more than 55 years of operations, we have never had to make a claim.

Why leave your property transaction to chance? Get in touch with De Tullio Law Firm. We are here to help make sure your Italian property transaction is a safe and smooth experience.

 

You may also be interested in Buying property in Italy

Property buying in Italy Can Be A Nightmare

When buying a property in Italy, before you sign any paperwork, seek professional advice

Property buying in Italy can be a nightmare.

Property buying 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 Abruzzo that they wanted to buy. The vendor’s real estate agent got them to sign a Proposta di Acquisto (reservation offer).

The estate agent passed the reservation offer to the vendor. The offer basically stipulated the price the couple was willing to pay for the property. It included the couple’s cheque for a €5000 deposit, made payable to the vendor. The vendor accepted the couple’s offer, took the cheque, and the deal became irrevocable. The estate agency also asked the couple for their brokerage fee of 3% of the purchase price, which they immediately paid.

The couple then discovered that the charming outbuilding with self-contained accommodation had no planning permission. Getting the building regularised would entail fees for a geometra (surveyor) and tax to the local municipality. The outbuilding would be subject to a demolition order if the permit was not granted. The couple even faced the risk of prosecution for illegal construction. The vendor had no intention of remedying the situation and there was no recourse for the couple. The couple was stuck in a nightmare scenario and yet, the whole thing was easily avoidable.

Teamwork makes the dream work

As a foreigner buying a property in Italy, before you sign any paperwork which may be legally binding, make sure you have the right team of advisors working for you.

Choose your own geometra to assess the integrity of a building’s structure. Check whether planning permission exists and, if necessary, what the costs would be for putting things right. You may also want to ask a geometra about the geology of the location. How prevalent are natural hazards such as landslides or earthquakes?

Engage your own lawyer. Your independent legal advisor will examine titles, zoning matters and review all paperwork associated with buying a property. A lawyer can save you money by helping you negotiate the deal and will ensure your rights are protected.

Italian law requires that all property and land transactions complete through a notary. Notaries work for the Italian State to ensure that transactions happen in accordance with Italian law. They ensure that purchasers pay all the relevant fees and taxes and register the deed of sale. Choose your own notary.

Independence is key when buying property in Italy

We cannot emphasise enough the importance of seeking independent advice. Choose your own professionals. While the estate agent or vendor may recommend professionals with whom they cooperate, you should bear in mind that estate agents and vendors have a vested interest in selling the property to you.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm, in addition to full conveyancing services, we offer a property background check. This is a  pre-purchase service, which identifies and prevents problems such as the ones encountered by the couple from Bristol.

Likewise,  for those looking to sell their Italian property, we can help you prepare a pre-sales package that includes all the paperwork potential buyers will be looking to gather prior to making a purchase decision.

For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our guide. If you would like to discuss your situation or, if we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

 

You may also be interested in Insider Tips for Buying A Property in Italy

Italian Tax. Buying A House in Italy

Local property and service taxes

Italian Tax. Buying A House in ItalyThis article aims to provide an overview of rules pertaining to Italian property tax and legislation. We outline aspects of legislation and certain taxes which are part of the Italian Stability Law. These measures aim to lower tax burdens and bolster the Italian property market. 

While the government has announced the elimination of the local property and service taxes on principal residences in Italy and added the elimination of property and regional taxes on production and fixed machinery in the agricultural sector, those who own second and or holiday homes and real estate in Italy, will still pay local property and service taxes.

We recommend that you check your Italian property tax liabilities. If you need any assistance with your particular case, our legal and tax team are here to help. 

Italian Tax on Property

Currently, cadastral values of Italian properties are still much lower than market values; appraisals in use date back some years. The declared cadastral value of a property on the deed of sale (Rogito) determines the calculation (base imponibile) of Stamp Duty, Land Registry and Cadastral taxes. VAT will apply to the property purchase price if you buy a property from a developer or a renovation company within 4 years following the end of building or renovation work.

Principal residences

Other than a luxury home or castle, if you purchase an Italian property to use as your principal residence:

– from a private seller or an entity that is not VAT registered and,

– you obtain Italian residency at the property within 18 months of signing the deed of sale and,

– you subsequently spend more than 6 months a year at that address,

stamp duty is 2% of the value of the property with € 1,000 as the minimum payment due. Land registry and Cadastral Taxes are €50 each.

If you buy your Italian property from a VAT Registered company, VAT is 4% of the declared property price. Stamp Duty, Land Registry and Cadastral Taxes are €200 each.

Second homes

If you buy a second home from a private owner or a company that is not VAT registered, Stamp duty will amount to 9% of the property purchase price, with €1,000 as a minimum payment. Land Registry and Cadastral taxes are €50 each.

If you purchase a second home from a VAT registered entity, VAT is set at a standard rate of 10% (22% for properties classed as luxury homes or castles) of the purchase price, and you will pay €200 each for Stamp Duty, Land Registry and Cadastral taxes.

To summarise Italian property taxes:

Italian Capital Gains Tax

There is no Capital Gains Tax liability if you purchased the property more than 5 years prior to resale.

Finally …

Italian property and related tax is quite complex. 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, inheritance and family law matters. If you would like further clarifications regarding your situation, please contact us for a free consultation. We are here to help.

Adverse Possession Usucapione of Italian Property

What is Adverse possession (usucapione)?

Usucapione is similar to Adverse Possession. It is a legal situation which is connected with possession of a property. The possession of a property doesn’t happen by force or hostility.

Usucapione is a legal procedure which can give you ownership of a property in Italy without any specific title such as a deed of purchase or a will and without any agreement from the owner of the property.

How does usucapione work?Adverse Possession Usucapione of Italian Property

The possession of whole or part of a property and or land must take place with public knowledge. Legally, after 10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances, the possessor can obtain the legal title and become the legal owner of the property.

You can become the owner of a property belonging to someone else if you take possession of it and behave as if you own the property. At the same time, the real owner should have behaved as if they have no interest in the property. This could include implicitly allowing another party to use the property.  Typically this might be because the owner has moved abroad and neglected or not looked after the property.

Usucapione has the legal purpose of giving certainty to legal relationships. It privileges someone who, although they are not actually the owner, takes care of the property. The owner is therefore deemed as not looking after it and neglecting it completely.

It takes 20 years for a possessor to acquire Italian real estate assets in bad faith. This starts from the moment of possession. It takes 10 years to obtain possession of an Italian property in good faith. This period of time must be continuous with no interruption.

To convert the factual condition of possession into ownership, the possessor requires a court injunction declaring that usucapione has occurred. Parties may offer evidence in any way they like however, typically witnesses provide evidence of peaceful, uninterrupted possession over time.

Finally …

If you own property in Italy, which you have neglected for some time, it is advisable to consult a specialist Italian property attorney to prevent any risks connected with  usucapione or, if you would like to discuss a case, please contact us for a free consultation.

Italian Estate Agents. What Are Their Legal Responsibilities?

The Role of Italian Real Estate AgentsItalian estate agents must be registered

According to Italian Law 39/1989, in order to operate in Italy, realtors and real estate agents must register with their local Chamber of Commerce. Without professional registration, a real estate agent is liable to fines and other penalties. In addition, unregistered estate agents cannot request commissions on property sales and purchases.

Italian legislation also provides an important guarantee for the consumer. Real estate agents must have professional indemnity insurance. This ensures that in the event of negligence by the estate agent, the agent can cover the claim.

Italian real estate agents have legal responsibilities

According to article 1759 of the Italian Civil Code, the real estate agent must make certain disclosures to the parties if the agent knows of, or becomes aware of, matters which impact a property transaction.

A real estate agent is not required to undertake any technical or legal checks and searches (due diligence) concerning listed properties. Nevertheless, an agent must disclose information according to the principles of a professional duty of care.

Under these principles, an agent must therefore provide all information that they have regarding a property. To withhold, impart incorrect or non-verified information about a property to an interested party is against Italian law.

Failure to exercise this professional duty of care could result in a contractual liability and trigger consumer rights including a request for repayment of any commission. In certain circumstances, the client may also request compensation for damages and/or take legal action against the real estate agent.

If the culpable silence of a real estate agent induces a client to sign a contract, which the consumer would not have signed had the estate agent disclosed full information, the real estate agent could be held liable to compensate the client for losses.

Italian estate agents’ commission

According to article 1755 of the Italian Civil Code, if a real estate agent helps close a property transaction, the agent receives a commission from both the buyer and the seller. Commission payments could arise as early as the signing a preliminary contract.

However, in order to receive a commission, the real estate agent must have played a decisive role in the transaction. Simply generating a lead is not sufficient to generate an agent’s commission.

The law does not stipulate, control or regulate rates of commission. In other words, fees are negotiable. It is always advisable to agree the commission in writing before signing a contract with a real estate agent.

Finally …

Property purchasers should be wary of signing any documents before fully understanding the legal implications. Italian law is complex and it is always prudent to have an independent lawyer look at any paperwork before you sign it.

At De Tullio Law Firm we have over 55 years of experience managing property transactions throughout Italy. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help.We are here to help.