Italian Estate Agents. What Are Their Legal Responsibilities?
Italian 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.
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.
For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our guide. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.