What is a certificato di abitabilità?
A certificate of habitability, or a certificato di abitabilità in Italian. This is a document that validates the suitability of a residential property for human habitation.
The certification is issued by local municipal offices. It follows verification that the building and its systems comply with health, safety and building regulations.
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According to Italian law, prior to issuing this certificate, the competent authorities should also verify that the building complies with planning permission.
The case law of the Italian Supreme Court is unanimous. In property transactions, the vendor must supply a certificate of habitability to the buyer. Furthermore, the vendor must give the document to the buyer before, or at the latest, at the signing of the deed of sale.
“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. 23rd January 2009, n. 1701).
A buyer has the right to verify that the property is suitable, that it is useable and will be saleable at a later date. Because it has direct effects on the legal use of the property as stipulated in the contract, a certificato di abitabilità is an essential requirement for all properties.
Does a lack of a certificato di abitabilità consitute a breach of contract?
Unless otherwise stipulated in contractual agreements, the responsibility to provide the certificate of habitability belongs to the vendor. Where there is a delay or a failure to supply the certificato di abitabilità, there is a clear case of non-execution of a contractual obligation (breach of contract).
Where no certificate of habitability exists, a buyer can still buy the property. However, the buyer must expressly consent to the lack of certification. In addition, the lack of certification must be included in the notarial deed of sale. The onus is on the buyer to verify the existence of the certificate of habitability before completion. It should form part of the buyer’s legal due diligence.
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