Buyers can back out of a sale if there is no certificate of habitability
A certificate of habitability or certificato di abitabilità in Italian, attests that a property is legally habitable. The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that buyers can refuse to sign the final deed of sale if a residential property has no certificate of habitability. (Court of Cassation., section II, 26th November 2015-8th February 2016, n. 2438).
Property owners obtain a certificato di abitabilità from their local municipality. Local municipalities should check that a property and its systems comply with health, safety and building regulations. In other words that the property is up to code. In addition, municipal authorities should check that the property complies with planning permission.
A certificate of habitability is also useful for obtaining utility connections and municipal services such as refuse collection.
The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation has ruled that buyers can back out of a purchase if a municipality refuses to issue a certificate of habitability.
The responsibility to provide a certificate of habitability lies with the vendor of an Italian property
This is pursuant to article 1477, paragraph 3, of the Italian Civil Code. 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). In order to remedy this, the purchaser may request a reduction in the sales price, or request a refund of deposits. A purchaser may also decide to back out of the transaction.
Where there is no certificate of habitability, 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.
While the vendor is responsible for supplying a certificato di abitabilità, the onus is on the buyer to verify its existence. Buyers should receive the certificate before completion. It should form part of the buyer’s legal due diligence.
It is also vital to check that the certificate pertains to the entire property, not just part of it. While the issuing municipality will check land registry plans, if the owner has undertaken any unauthorised work on the property, this may not appear in plans.
Not having a certificate of habitability can have long term repercussions
A vendor’s failure to provide a certificate of habitability represents a liability for buyers. Purchasers will need to obtain a certificate following the purchase. However, this is not always possible. Properties with no certificate of habitability have a lower market value. Purchasers should therefore be aware that not having a certificate will have repercussions on the resale price and saleability.
If you are looking at a real estate investment in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property purchasing journey. We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on their Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.