Interior changes to layout in Italian properties do not always require planning and building permission

Changes of layoutRecently, the Italian government has simplified the paperwork necessary for renovation and building work. As part of these efforts, new legislation was introduced in 2014. Measures include a Notice of Commencement of Work – Comunicazione Inizio Lavori (CIL). A CIL allows home owners to carry out certain interior changes to layout of a property. This means that home owners no longer need to apply for planning and building permits.

Regional variations apply however, making certain changes to interior layout of a property has become easier. For example, work involving  removal or moving internal dividing walls.

Essentially, provided changes to layout neither substantially change the use of the property nor increase its footprint, a CIL is sufficient.

Case law pertaining to change of layout

A case in Lazio involved a man who modernised the apartment he owns in Rome. The man wanted to remove a couple of walls in his apartment to create an open-plan kitchen and living space. Having found a builder to do the work, the man filed a CIL with the Comune. From a legal point of view, if a Comune fails to respond to a CIL within 30 days of a home owner filing it, work can begin.

Six weeks after filing the CIL, not having heard anything from the Comune, the man and his builder carried out the work. Two weeks after completing the renovation work, the Municipal Police visited the apartment to inspect the work. The police alleged that the owner had not obtained the requisite planning and building permits. They said the renovations were therefore illegal.

A few weeks later, the owner received an order from the Comune to return the apartment to its original state. Having sought legal advice, the home owner took the Comune to court.

The Regional Administrative Court in Lazio ruled in favour of the property owner, (Tar Lazio, sez. I quater, 17 October 2015 n. 11831). The court found in the home owner’s favour stating that the owner had correctly filed a CIL. As the home owner had heard nothing back from the Comune, this constituted tacit approval of the proposed work. While his demolition and renovation work changed the floor-plan and layout of internal spaces, the work neither substantially changed the use of the space nor increased the overall size of the apartment. Thus, the court ruled that the work did not require planning or building permission.

How to file a CIL for changes to interior layout

A CIL form and local regulations regarding planning, building, health and safety can be obtained from your Comune. Some municpalities have put the form and regulations online for convenience.

Finally …

The key to making your Italian property project as safe and smooth as possible is to appoint a legal team that speaks your language. De Tullio Law Firm has a thorough understanding of Italian property law and decades of experience managing Italian property transactions and renovations. Get in touch with us.

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