Tag Archive for: Italian Property Solicitor

Off-Plan Properties in Italy. Advice


This article was originally provided by De Tullio Law Firm to the British Consulate in 2011. While the article pertains to a Calabrian case, information is relevant to off-plan properties throughout Italy.

If you are looking for additional information about off-plan properties purchases in Italy, you will find a series of articles on the subject if you use our search tool, including a post here about your legal position regarding delivery delays.

Buying off-plan homes in Calabria

A large number of British citizens who have bought holiday property in Calabria have recently contacted the British Consulate in Naples. Many of these transactions have been completed to the satisfaction of the purchasers but, a significant number have run into difficulties with the lawyers involved or with the developers. The Consulate has drawn the matter to the attention of the Italian authorities who are investigating, but we strongly advise purchasers encountering problems of this sort to seek legal advice about obtaining redress.

Advice for anyone purchasing off-plan properties in Italy

Seek legal advice before signing a contract and paying any money upfront

Once you have signed a preliminary contract, it may be too late. Choose your own independent lawyer. We advise you not to use lawyers recommended by the developer or contractor so as to avoid possible conflicts of interest.

Use an independent Notary Public

You do not have to use the notary proposed by the developer or contractor for the deed of sale. In fact, to avoid possible conflicts of interest, we would advise against this. Choose your own notary.

Remember that the Italian version of the contract will prevail in an Italian court

So, either commission the translation yourself from an independent translator or, get any translation you receive checked by an independent qualified person.

Deposit

The amount you pay as a deposit for an off-plan development should be up to around 10%. Seek legal advice if you are asked for more than that.

Stato avanzamento lavori

As the building work progresses, the developer should accompany any request for further payments with a list of the work done (‘stato avanzamento lavori’). Ask an independent surveyor or architect to check the list before you make any payment. The preliminary contract should include a payment plan.

Surety and guarantee

When you buy an off-plan property, you should receive a bank loan guarantee. This must be an annex to the preliminary contract. If the developer becomes insolvent, this bank loan guarantee will often represent the only protection you have for your investment. If you have already received a bank loan guarantee, have a qualified professional check that it complies with Italian law.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm, we are Italian and cross border property law specialists. We operate throughout Italy. If you are considering investing in off-plan property in Italy, please get in touch with us for a free consultation. We are here to help.

Building Defects in Italy. Who Is Liable?

A professionally drafted contract is your best protection against any faults with Italian construction work


Building defects include the use of shoddy materials, poorly executed work, deviations from an agreed plan or a request for additional money.

The best advice we can therefore offer before you enter into any arrangement with a construction, building or renovation company is to call your legal advisor.

A professionally drafted contract in both English and Italian will prevent a lot of problems, reduce stress and often save you a considerable amount of money.

A summary of Italian legislation covering building defects

The contractor is responsible for defects and unauthorised variation of construction work. If there are visible defects, you should not accept the work. If you do, you lose the right to claim on the guarantee (art. 1667, first paragraph of the Italian civil code).

In order to formally contest the construction work, you should request your legal advisor to notify the contractor through a formal letter of default. If you accept work with visible defects and/or unauthorised variations of work, you will lose the right to trigger the guarantee unless the defects and variations were caused with malicious intent. A contractor is considered to have acted with malice if, despite being aware of the defects and/or variations, the contractor fails to point these out to the client.

Hidden building defects

The acceptance of work does not compromise your guarantee in the case of hidden defects. You can contest hidden defects when you discover them. A client will need a lawyer to take action in order to make a claim on the guarantee. 

– Report the hidden defects within 60 days of their discovery.

– Take legal action within 2 years from the completion of the work.

If a client does not comply with both of the above mentioned obligations the client will lose the cover of the guarantee. In cases where the contractor not only neglects to point out the defects but also acts in a malicious manner to hide the faults, the time limit for legal action extends to 5 years.

Fault of the contractor 

Once the client proves the defects and/or the unauthorised variations, there is a presumption of fault against the contractor. It is then the contractor’s responsibility to prove any absence of negligence.

Guarantees

According to article. 1668 of the Italian civil code, in the case of visible or hidden defects the client has 4 possible courses of action.

– Request correction with the contractor bearing the total cost.

– Request a price reduction.

If variations or building defects are serious the client can:

– Request the termination of the contract and,

– Request compensation for damages.

Responsibility of the contractor for new build properties

Article 1669 of the Italian civil code provides particular regulations for new buildings. For new builds, the contractor is liable for collapse (total or partial), evident danger of collapse or serious defects in construction.

Jurisprudence extends liability to renovation work which can be expected to be durable. This, for example would include roof waterproofing and floor and wall tiling. The contractor’s responsibility increases to a period of 10 years from the date of completion of the work. Any faults should be contested formally with a letter of default drafted by your lawyer to the contractor within 1 year of discovering them.

Italian Law stipulates that the client has one year from the recorded delivery of a letter of default to starting legal proceedings against the contractor. Once the client has highlighted serious defects, there is a presumption of liability against the contractor. The contractor must prove the contrary.

Examples of serious building defects 

There is significant jurisprudence defining the meaning of “serious defects”. In broad terms, the definition of serious defects is work that seriously compromises the use of the property or has a significant impact on essential structural elements such as stability, efficiency and duration of work. Here are some examples of serious building defects classified in Italian jurisprudence:

– Detachment and rupture of a significant number of tiles.

– Defects concerning the roof of the property causing infiltrations of water.

– Faulty heating system.

– Inadequate thermal insulation.

– Faulty plumbing system.

– Defects of the chimney or flue.

Inspecting construction work 

Article 1665 of the Italian civil code provides the client with the option to inspect completed work before signing-off on it. This right of inspection also extends to work in progress. We would recommend that you involve your lawyer and an independent surveyor in this process before accepting any work.

Article 1665 par. 4, states that where the client accepts the work at the point of signing-off without requesting an inspection or without contesting work, there is a presumption that the client has accepted the work. If the client accepts the work without any formal objection, this constitutes an implicit acceptance. As a consequence, the client loses the guarantee for visible defects or unauthorised variations. There is however an exception for malicious or undeclared issues. In addition, acceptance of work means the client must pay the contractor for the work.

Finally …

For problems concerning your Italian property renovation or construction work, please do not hesitate to contact De Tullio Law Firm. We are Italian property law specialists. We offer legal assistance throughout Italy. While it is always best to engage independent legal services prior to starting a renovation or construction project, contacting a lawyer as early as possible in a dispute can often lead to a settlement thus avoiding lengthy and costly litigation in the Italian courts.

 

You may also be interested in Off-Plan Property in Italy: Insurance And Guarantee. In addition, we have a number of info videos that you may like to watch.

Real Estate Transaction in Italy. Legal Translations

An accurate understanding of the Italian legal system is essential for a translator dealing with an Italian real estate transaction


All legal documents relating to an Italian real estate transaction must be in Italian, regardless of the nationality of the parties.

Italian legal writing is highly technical, ritualistic and often archaic due to close links with Roman Law. Legal language can seem obscure for people without a solid legal background in Italian law. 

There are huge differences between Common Law and Italian Civil Law. This can add to the confusion. In fact, there are legal concepts in Roman Law that simply do not exist in Common Law and vice versa. There are concepts bearing the same name in the two systems but with different meanings.

An accurate understanding of legal systems and processes is therefore essential for translators or interpreters dealing with Italian real estate transactions. Translators require an in-depth knowledge of specialist terminology as well as knowledge of legal concepts. 

This is why you should never sign a legal document without a lawyer to explain commitments in your own language.

Italian versions of contracts prevail in a court of law 

Italian real estate agents often use pre-printed contracts with an English translation. In reality, these translations are rarely faithful and can often be misleading for the buyer. It’s important to underline that in case of litigation, the Italian version of any contract will always prevail in a court of law.

In the most crucial completion phase of the real estate transaction, you will have to sign the deed of sale in the presence of a public notary. The Italian law requires the presence of an interpreter if one or more parties does not speak fluent Italian.

Our advice is to make sure that your interpreter is qualified not only from a linguistic point of view, but also in terms of legal background.

Another crucial aspect to bear in mind is the independence of the interpreter in order to avoid any conflict of interest. This precludes using the real estate agent, a relative or a friend of any parties involved in the transaction.

Finally …

Engaging a bilingual property lawyer will ensure you have the right expertise throughout your Italian real estate transaction. Your lawyer will always make sure you have a full understanding of all documents before you sign them. In addition, a lawyer can act as your interpreter to explain all the legal ramifications. If you need any assistance with your property purchase in Italy, Please get in touch.

Insurance Policy for Off-Plan Properties

What defects does an off-plan insurance policy cover?

In accordance with article 4 of legislative decree 122/2005, a construction company must provide off-plan property buyers with an insurance policy.

Essentially, this is a guarantee which covers any serious construction defects. The guarantee should provide 10 years of cover.

Off-plan buyers should obtain the insurance policy when the transfer of ownership takes place.

Because by law, a notary public must handle completion of Italian property conveyancing, we would advise you to request that the notary explicitly references the insurance policy in your deed of sale.

What constitutes a serious construction defect?

The notion of serious construction defects has developed substantially over time. This is thanks, in large part, to jurisprudence. Originally, the notion only included defects involving prejudice to the safety and stability of the property.

However, nowadays, the notion has a wider meaning. It therefore includes all defects that can be defined as provoking significant detriment to the use of the property. Consequently, the guarantee should cover any damage that might impact the owner’s regular, day-to-day use of the property.

Does the insurance policy also cover the use of poor quality materials?

If the construction defect impacts on the regular use of the property, it may involve secondary elements of the construction. Thus, if the fault inhibits an owner’s ability to live in the property and implies maintenance work, the use of poor or inadequate materials may also constitute a serious defect.

For example, floor tile detachment in some areas of a property may constitute a slip and fall hazard. Another example could be poor sealing of the roof which allows water ingress. Both examples clearly demonstrate that the notion of serious construction defects is quite broad.

Who can make a claim on an off-plan insurance policy?

The law limits the right to make a claim on a serious defect insurance policy to buyers who are private individuals. According to a more restrictive interpretation of the law, the buyer should be a “consumer”. In other words, an owner can only claim on the insurance policy if they purchased the property for personal use. The insurance policy excludes tenanted, entrepreneurial or professional use of the property.

Finally …

There are many risks related to buying off-plan property in Italy. We have written a number of posts on the subject, which you can access using our search tool.

Off-plan property purchases in Italy are complex. There are many hidden risks. We would therefore always advise that you seek independent legal advice before signing any documents or paperwork.

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.

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.

English-Speaking Italian Property Lawyer

How Can An English-Speaking Italian Property Lawyer Advise with The Purchase of A Property in Italy?

Buying a home anywhere, including Italy, is probably one of the largest and most significant investments you will make in your life. Italian property law is complex. It raises special issues of practice as well as points of law not present in other transactions and or jurisdictions. An English-speaking Italian property lawyer is a trained legal specialist, experienced at dealing with these problems.

The Italian property sales and purchase process

Briefly, in the typical Italian home purchase, the buyer enters into a brokerage contract with a real estate agent, usually in writing. Negotiations with the vendor go through the real estate agent, who acts as an intermediary.

In the first stage of the Italian property purchasing process, the buyer and seller enter into a formal written contract for the sale, a reservation offer. The buyer pays a small deposit. Once the reservation offer is in place, the buyer undertakes initial due diligence. Amongst other things, this includes checking title deeds and ascertaining the property has all the correct planning permits.

The second stage in the Italian purchasing process is to sign a preliminary contract. This contains all the terms and conditions of the transaction and is a legally binding document. Another deposit is due at this stage.

The third and final stage is when all parties to the transaction sign the deed of sale in the presence of a notary. In effect, this is the transfer of ownership when the seller receives the remainder of the purchase price.

The Italian property sales and purchase process may seem straightforward. However, having a specialist Italian property lawyer specialised in Italian property on your side will help you avoid some common pitfalls. 

Estate agency agreements

For example, a buyer may sign a brokerage agreement with a real estate agent that does not deal with a number of legal matters. This is a common occurrence. Estate agents often use standard forms, expecting that they will cover all circumstances. However this ‘one size fits all’ approach is not easily customisable for unusual circumstances.

In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the buyer may be liable to pay a brokerage commission even if a sale does not occur, or to pay more than one brokerage commission. An English-speaking Italian property lawyer can explain the implications before you sign a brokerage agreement. In addition, your lawyer can negotiate the agent’s rights if the seller withdraws the property from the market, or can’t deliver a marketable title.

Due Diligence

An English-speaking Italian property lawyer can execute title searches, explain the title, determine if the legal description is correct and whether there are problems with co-­owners or prior owners. A lawyer can also explain the effect of easements, agreements or restrictions imposed by a prior owner.

In addition your lawyer can ascertain whether there are any legal restrictions. For instance zoning legislation may impair your ability to change use or make alterations to the property.

The title search does not tell the buyer anything about existing and prospective plans in the area. Having your own Italian legal advisor will enable you to obtain this type of information more accurately, thoroughly and easily than trying to do it yourself.

You may have plans to alter, renovate or extend the property. It is important to ascertain that your plans are possible from a legal point of view. Your lawyer can help this and can engage a surveyor or architect to inspect the property to ascertain  whether your plans are possible.

We would advise buyers to have a survey of the property. Not just structural but also measured. In addition, the survey should check for materials such as asbestos and lead-based paint and check the land for hazardous waste.

A buyer or seller may also find it useful to consult with a lawyer regarding purchasing structures, tax and inheritance implications of a cross-­border transaction.

The preliminary contract is the single most important document in a property transaction

Because a preliminary contract is so important, it is crucial that it reflects the buyer’s wishes. Again, Italian estate agents tend to use standard printed forms for preliminary contracts. Although these are useful, we would advise you to consult a lawyer for an explanation and clarification of the form.

You may need to make changes or add tailored conditions to reflect your personal circumstances. For example, is your purchase contingent on being able to get a mortgage? Are there any alterations to the property? If so, are they lawful? Does the whole property have full planning permission? What are the legal consequences if completion is delayed or doesn’t take place? What happens to deposits? This also raises related questions. Who will hold the deposits? Will they held in escrow by the estate agent?

Again, it is important to remember that printed contract forms are generally inadequate to incorporate the real understanding of the buyer and seller without significant changes. Once you sign a preliminary contract, it is not easy to back out of it and remember, you have paid deposits that you risk losing.

Deed of Sale

Completion is the most important event in the purchase and sale transaction. When you purchase a property in Italy you must do so through a notary. A notary is a government official. As such, the law requires notaries to remain impartial in all property transactions. They cannot therefore offer legal advice to any party to a transaction. A notary’s main tasks are to ensure that all documents are authentic. They also deal with registration and tax matters on behalf of the Italian State.

Although the role of notary is to ensure that the transaction meets all legal requirements, this does not mean that the notary is acting on the buyer’s behalf to ensure the buyer gets the best deal. Furthermore, contrary to what many people believe, the notary cannot guarantee the absence of legal issues such as any unlawful work to a property – (abusivi). While a notary will check planning permission, a notary will not make a site inspection of the property to ensure there are no additional illegal work.

The notary will require the presence of a translator if any party to the transaction is not a fluent Italian speaker. Having an English-speaking Italian legal advisor means buyers benefit not only from translation ability, but also legal know-how and expertise.

The closing process can be confusing and crowded. Those present include the buyers and sellers, their respective attorneys, and the real estate broker. There may be last minute disputes about delivering possession and personal property or the adjustment of various costs. If you are the only person without a lawyer, your rights may be at risk.

Conflicts of interest

Perhaps the most important reason to engage a lawyer is conflicting interests of the parties. Throughout the process, a buyer’s and seller’s interests can be at odds with each other.

The estate agent generally serves the seller. Both the seller and estate agent want to close the deal since this is how they will get paid. Because of this, we would advise you to choose your own English-speaking Italian property lawyer rather than one recommended by the estate agent or vendor.

Finally …

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.

Leasehold or Emphyteusis in Italy: What You Should Know

Emphyteusis is a type of leasehold arrangement

The closest Common Law legal term to Emphyteusis is a leasehold.

The landlord retains the ownership of property. However, a tenant has the right to use it for a contractually agreed period of time. In this type of leasehold or Emphyteutical arrangement, the tenant must both maintain and improve the property.

Leasehold or Emphyteusis is a contractual arrangement which has its roots in Roman Law. It formed part of the feudal system and has connections to the agricultural economy. Farmers had the possibility to cultivate land thereby sustaining themselves. In return, farmers paid an annual ground rent or canon in money and or in kind.

Italian leasehold or Emphyteusis arrangements are applicable to all types of physical assets

Contractual arrangements exist between two parties. On the one hand, the Dominium Directum, the freehold owner the (dominus) or landlord of the property. And, on the other hand, the Dominium Utile – the tenant (emphyteuta) who has the right to use property on a leasehold basis.

Emphyteusis is applicable to both land and buildings, including villas and apartments.

For the duration of an Emphyteusis contract, where land is involved, the tenant has the right to alter the surface of the land. This includes ploughing up pastures to cultivate a crop or plant trees.

Where the arrangement concerns buildings, a tenant may alter these. However, alterations must not cause any deterioration of the building. Therefore, if the tenant wishes to build an extension or add to existing structures, the tenant may do so.

The contract between the ‘landlord’ and the ‘tenant’ must be in writing. Rent payments are recurring and the duty to pay rent only ceases if the estate is destroyed. Destruction may either be due to human causes  such as a fire or through natural events for example, an earthquake.

Duration and obligations of leasehold or Emphyteusis contracts

Emphyteusis can be in perpetuity or limited to a minimum of 20 years. In either case, entitlements are the same.

In other words, a tenant may sublet the property, receive compensation for improvements made and even retain the property until full payment of his credit is rightfully received. These things, as well as those previously mentioned, do not require the consent of the landlord.

If the Emphyteusis has a duration of 20 years, the tenant cannot contractually transfer rights to another party. The right of pre-emption does not apply to the tenant in the same way it does to farmers. This means that the tenant in a leasehold or Empyteutical contract arrangement does not have right of first refusal to purchase land.

The tenant has a very broad right to dispose of the property held under perpetual Emphyteusis. Thus a tenant may dispose of the emphyteutical property by means of a deed in compliance with Italian Civil Code. This can either be an act inter vivos, i.e. made during the tenant’s lifetime, or causa mortis, i.e. after death. In the event of death, disposal is by means of a will.

Redemption of leasehold or Emphyteusis contracts

A tenant can acquire full ownership of Emphyteutical property through the payment of a price corresponding to fifteen times the annual rent. A tenant can make use of this redemption right at any time.

This redemption right prevails as an equivalent right accorded to the landlord in case of breach of contract by the tenant, known as the “devolution” (devoluzione).

Redemption may be settled either out of court, by means of an agreement between the landlord and tenant. A notarised deed must reflect the settlement. Where the landlord and tenant cannot reach agreement, the dispute can be settled in court.

Check the title deeds of an Italian property before you buy

A tenant must increase the productivity, the usefulness or the value of the estate, rural or urban. This obligation lasts for the duration of the term of Emphyteusis and must be in writing. Annual rents to the landlord are payable annually.

The landlord has the right to request the end of the Emphyteusis due to a breach of contract by the tenant. The landlord must refund any improvements the tenant has made. Payments should be proportional to the increase of value of the estate when it returns to the landlord.

Finally …

Acquiring, redeeming or disposing of property subject to leasehold or Emphyteusis arrangements can present challenges. Other types of leasehold arrangements also exist in Italian law. It is advisable that you contact an Italian lawyer to ensure you understand all the implications of such arrangements.

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. We are here to help.  Get in touch with us.

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.

Certificato di Abitabilità – Certificate of Habitability

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.

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.

Finally …

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.

 

For more information, you may find our buying and selling property in Italy guides useful.

Italian Notary

What is the difference between an Italian notary and a lawyer?

International clients are often confused about the role of an Italian Notary. There is a mistaken belief that a public notary (notaio) performs the same function as a lawyer, solicitor or attorney (avvocato). This is not the case.

Public notaries emerged from the institution of scribes and scriveners. They were revered and knowledgeable public officials of the Roman Empire. These Notaries prepared and drew up fair copies of deeds and other legal documents. They endorsed these documents using the seal of the court and thus the documents became ‘public acts’. Eventually, Notaries gained the right to use their own official seals to give their acts public status.

In modern times, Italian notaries act on behalf of the Italian State. It is the Italian Ministry of Justice that appoints them. Because an Italian notary is an official of the Italian State, a document endorsed by a notaio guarantees its legal status.

On the other hand, a lawyer, is someone you engage to act exclusively on your behalf in a legal matter. Whereas a lawyer exclusively commits to protecting your interests, a notaio endorses acts, deeds and documents and collects taxes.

A notaio is a qualified lawyer who works as a public officer for the Italian State. However, because an Italian notary is an official of the State, by law they must maintain impartiality in all transactions. A notary cannot therefore provide legal representation to any party involved. A notary can however provide advice if requested but, must protect parties equally.

An Italian notary prepares acts, endorses documents and collects tax for the Italian State

Notaries operate in every area of law including family, property, inheritance, asset, corporate, rural, local authority, and other areas. An Italian notary is present at all significant times in life which require a State document or tax payment.

A notary is empowered by the Italian State to endorse documents, agreements, contracts and other instruments by affixing a seal and signature.  In so doing, Italian Public Notaries officially witness the wishes expressed by the signatories and give a personal guarantee regarding the content and date of the instrument.

Although a notaio has public authority, the notaio operates on a self-employed basis. They are mostly paid by clients (not by the taxpayer) on the basis of a rate fixed by the Italian State for notarial services.

Regardless of whether a property is purchased from a private vendor or through a real estate agent, in accordance with Italian legislation, a notaio must oversee the sale. The notaio is responsible for receiving all legal documents pertaining to the sale, verifying their authenticity and drawing up the deed of sale – Atto di Vendita.

Often in Italy the vendor and purchaser use a single notaio for a property transaction. According to Italian law, it is the buyer’s legal right to appoint the notary public. We would advise that buyers choose their own notary. You should bear in mind that an estate agent and the vendor have a vested interest in selling a property. Using a notary recommended by these parties may therefore create a conflict of interest.

What is the specific role of an Italian notary in Italian property transactions?

The notaio may execute certain checks at the very end of the conveyancing process but, this would only be after the buyer has already paid substantial deposits to the vendor.

Checks might include each party’s rights to buy or sell the property, or a land registry search to see whether any third parties have a claim on the property. A notary may also search for any mortgages on the property or verify the presence at of planning permission. However, a notary public will not inspect the property to make sure it actually complies with planning permission.

The main role of the notaio therefore revolves around the exchange of contracts. This involves drawing up the deed of sale. This is based on input from the vendor and/or the estate agent and the preliminary contract.

At the signing of the deed of sale, an Italian notary first verifies the identity of parties involved in the transaction. Then the notaio reads the contract aloud to all parties. After all parties have signed, the notaio provides a copy of the deed of sale to both buyer and vendor and oversees the transfer of funds for the transaction. In addition, the notary ensures that the Italian State receives taxes and fees in full. Finally, the notary registers the new deed of ownership at the land registry.

Why would a buyer need an avvocato for a property transaction?

Although it is not a legal requirement in Italy, as they would in their home country, many buyers appoint an avvocato to make sure their best interests are served throughout the three-step Italian property purchasing process.

A buyer’s avvocato will conduct thorough due diligence, searches and detailed checks on the buyer’s behalf and provide legal advice throughout the Italian property purchasing process.

Having your own lawyer ensures you get:

– the best contractual terms and conditions on the property

– deposit protection

– efficient and smooth conveyancing

– no hidden surprises along the way or later

Finally …

If you are thinking of making 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.


You might find our guide to buying property in Italy useful.
For more information about the Italian notary’s role in property transactions, visit the Consiglio Nazionale del Notariato website.

Estate Planning And Tax. Buying An Italian Property

Tax and estate planning matters. Think long term when buying property in Italy


Owning a second home in your home country presents administrative and logistical challenges. However, at least that second home is within linguistic, tax and legal frameworks that are familiar to you. 
The challenges escalate with a foreign property. Italy is a popular choice for second home ownership. In recent years foreign ownership of Italian property has increased as people take advantage of favourable property prices.  If you are considering buying a property in Italy, you should carefully think through Italian estate planning aspects. In particular tax and succession matters.

You should always seek independent tax and estate planning advice, from experts in Italy as well and at home.

There are a number of tax issues to consider in Italy and in your home country. Any of the following may trigger a tax event in either or both your home country and Italy:

– Disposal of property or investments to fund the purchase of an Italian property.

– Transferring money to Italy.

– Associated property purchase tax (local equivalent of closing costs / stamp duty).

– Local service taxes on the running of the property.

– Income tax from letting the property.

– Estate and transfer taxes on the death of an owner.

– Capital Gains Tax on the transfer or sale of the property.

Income Tax

If you are resident outside of Italy, you may be liable to pay income tax on all income, regardless of where this arises.  For example, UK residents who generate an income by letting an Italian property will be subject to UK income tax on the rental income. There will also be a liability to pay tax in Italy. There may be some double taxation relief available. However, it is essential that prior to purchasing a second home and commencing any rental activity that you seek advice both at home and in Italy.

Capital Gains Tax

Foreign nationals who own a property in Italy may be subject to Capital Gains Tax at home. If the Italian property is not the owner’s main residence, when the owner sells or transfers the property title, there may be a tax payment on any profit. There will also be a liability in Italy.

Inheritance Tax

Individuals who are domiciled, for example, in the UK are subject to UK Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) on their worldwide assets in the event of their death. UK IHT does not therefore just apply in respect of assets physically located in the UK if an individual is domiciled in the UK. In addition, Italian Estate Tax will apply to the entire net value of the decedent’s estate, including movable and immovable assets in Italy.

Italian estate tax rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased. Spouse and children: 4% of the estate value, with an exemption of EUR 1 million for each beneficiary. Siblings and close relatives (up to fourth degree of kinship): 6%. Each sibling is entitled to an allowance of EUR 100,000. Any other beneficiary: 8%, with no allowances.

There may be some double taxation relief available. Because each case is different, it is crucial to take advice before purchasing a property in Italy.

Estate planning. Make an Italian will

It is essential to take advice on the succession implications of owning a property in Italy at an early stage. Buyers should consult an Italian solicitor and a solicitor in their home country. A specialist estate planning lawyer will have experience of managing all aspects which arise with cross-border assets or estates.

Generally, succession to a property is subject to the law of the country where that property is physically situated. However, a 2015 EU Regulation known as, “Brussels IV”, makes it possible to nominate a jurisdiction to rule your succession. Even if your home country is not part of the EU, Brussels IV is still applicable to non-EU nationals who own assets in Italy.

It is wise to make a separate will in Italian, to ensure that your property passes to your chosen beneficiaries after your death in the most tax efficient way.

Based on Roman law, Italy has, “Forced Heirship” rules. These govern what portion close family members must receive from an Italian estate. Seeking professional advice is therefore essential to understand how these rules apply to your specific circumstances.

Even though having an Italian will is not a legal requirement, it can save costs, time and misunderstandings for those you leave behind. In addition, your local solicitor will wish to confirm that your home country will takes precedence in Italy. 

Finally …

People put off estate planning because they think they do not own enough, they are not old enough, it will be costly or confusing, they will have plenty of time to do it later, they do not know where to begin or who can help them, or they just do not want to think about it.

Estate planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should review and update your plan as your family and circumstances change. This would include when you make an international investment.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters. We operate throughout Italy. Our firm is a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

Please contact us if you are buying or already own an Italian property and have any questions about your estate planning.

 

For more in depth information about Italian succession, you might find our Succession Guide useful.

 

Off-Plan Properties in Italy: Delivery Delays

Late delivery: one of the risks in buying Italian off-plan properties

This article is part of a series about the risks of buying off-plan properties in Italy. To read more on the topic, please use our search tool to look for off-plan properties in Italy.

Significant delays in delivery of Italian off-plan properties is one aspect that investors report as being particularly irritating.

Developers and builders can be very persuasive. Whatever you do, don’t feel obliged to sign anything without first seeking independent legal advice.

Penalty clause for late delivery of off-plan properties

Broadly-speaking, a penalty clause is a contractual provision which levies a monetary sum in the event of a breach of terms in the contract. It does not include any compensation payment for actual damages.

Buyers often try to insert a late delivery penalty clause into their contracts for off-plan properties in Italy. However, penalty clauses are generally unenforceable and ineffective under Italian law. 

Generally, the off-plan developer or builder draws up a contract. Often these are major companies. The buyer is therefore unlikely to be able to mutually agree a penalty clause. The agreement will therefore unilaterally favour the company.

The importance of a preliminary contract

The Preliminary Contract (Compromesso) is key in off-plan property purchases. If they are fortunate, off-plan buyers may manage to insert a penalty clause in the compromesso. This would see the refund of a buyer’s deposit. However, in accordance with binding terms of the contract, the buyer would still have to wait for the developer or builder to deliver the property.

Termination clause for late delivery of off-plan properties

A more effective legal safeguard would be to integrate an express termination clause in the compromesso. In effect, the termination of the preliminary contract would automatically occur – whether or not the buyer notifies the seller of the intention to terminate.

To make the clause enforceable and effective, the compresso must explicitly reference the length of delay.

If the seller exceeds the delivery date, either party can negotiate an extension and a new compromesso. Or, the buyer can claim a refund of deposits and/or any other advance payments.

Essential Term

Unfortunately, buyers of Italian off-plan properties sometimes sign a compromesso which promises more than it can deliver. Then, when delivery day arrives and buyers do not receive the keys to their property, the buyer discovers that the Italian law does not provide much protection.

If a compromesso does not include an express termination clause, the buyer can send the developer or builder a formal request to respect terms and conditions. Italian law calls this particular provision an, “essential term”.

The buyer’s formal request should warn the vendor that failure to respect terms and conditions will terminate the contract. The vendor must fulfil contractual obligations within a certain time, which cannot be less than 15 days.

Case law

In a recent court case, where the vendor had failed to comply with an, “essential term”, the Court of Vicenza (judgement n.187/2016) ruled that:

“whenever a delay is considered unbearable, it is possible to start legal proceedings against the builder, or the building company, and to obtain a refund of any advance payments. Furthermore but, only in the case of proven damages, the purchasing party can claim additional compensation”.

Either way, before taking legal action to resolve the situation and/or to make a claim for compensation for damages, an amicable settlement is always preferable. Because legal action through the Italian courts can take at least 5 years and can be very costly, an amicable settlement is likely to be quicker and more favourable. It is the route we would recommend.

Finally …

There are a number of risks involved in off-plan purchases. At De Tullio Law Firm, we are property law specialists. We are present throughout Italy. We would always recommend that you engage a lawyer you choose to ensure that you protect your interests. If the vendor recommends a lawyer, we would caution against it on the grounds of conflict of interest. Before signing any off-plan property-related paperwork, including a preliminary contract, you should seek independent legal advice. If you are unsure about any aspect of purchasing off-plan properties in Italy, we are here to help.

 

You may also be interested in Off-Plan Property in Italy: Insurance And Guarantee. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.