Tag Archive for: Italian Property Solicitor

Selling Your Italian Property: Italian Property Law


Selling your Italian property can be a difficult and lengthy process
 

To aid the process in the long run, it is therefore important to make things easier at the outset. Prior to selling your Italian property there are certain preparations that are worthwhile making.

Preparing a sales package

The first step is to gather all the legal paperwork relating to the property.

Amongst other things, this includes the title deeds which prove you are the legal owner. Also, land registry entries to show that the whole property has planning permission and complies with building regulations. In addition, the property’s certificate of habitability and energy performance certificate.

Having this paperwork before you start marketing the property will facilitate the whole sales process for you as well as potential buyers.

Marketing your Italian property

The next step is putting the property on the market. You can either do this as a private sale or through a real estate agent (agente immobiliare).

If you are appointing an Italian real estate agent, it is important to ensure that the agent is qualified and registered with the local Chamber of Commerce in full compliance with Italian law. Legislation governing real estate agents aims to guarantee professional qualification. An unregistered agent could be prosecuted for carrying out a reserved activity and may not be legally entitled to request commission. Legislation also ensures that the agent has adequate indemnity insurance to cover clients in the event something goes wrong.

It’s important to think about whether the real estate agent can market the property locally, nationally and internationally. Perhaps ask a few agents to appraise the property. And, be sure to discuss brokerage fees before you choose.

Checking Italian real estate agent terms and conditions

Usually, both the buyer and the vendor pay the estate agent commission. Estate agent commission is negotiable but is generally equivalent to 3% of the full sale price. Amongst other aspects, it is important to assess the agent. In particular, their brokerage fees, minimum sale price, duration of the mandate and their exclusivity.

Frequently, real estate agents require a foreign seller to sign standard terms of engagement. The seller must carefully evaluate this before signing. All the more so if the document is in Italian. Even with the translation of the terms of engagement into your language, the Italian version will prevail.

Reservation offers in Italy

Once a potential buyer is considering the purchase of your property, the potential buyer will generally sign a legally binding document called, Proposta Irrevocabile d’Acquisto, a Reservation Offer. Often the buyer makes a small deposit to the vendor at this point.

Both the buyer and the property vendor should sign the reservation offer. In effect, the reservation offer removes the property from the market for a period of time, usually 15 days. This allows the interested buyer exclusive rights to conduct due diligence on the property.

Property checks and searches in Italy

Due diligence includes: conducting surveys, planning and building application/permission searches, local authority and land registry searches, and legal searches.

This is where preparing your sales package before marketing your property comes into its own.

The aim of due diligence, amongst other things, is to establish that the property exists in relevant records. In other words that it is as described, and the seller has the right to sell the property in question.

That there are no mortgages/charges or any third party rights or other undisclosed encumbrances affecting the property.

The property complies with all local planning and building regulations and complies with any relevant local authority urban plan.

That the property is fit for human occupancy, unless the property is selling for reconstruction, and that the owner holds the relevant certification of habitability Certificato di Abitabilità.

The seller has complied with all the relevant Italian tax legislation by lodging tax returns, and paying tax. This includes tax which may have been due in the previous tax years. In default of this requirement, the property may be legally unsaleable.

That where the vendor is the owner of a company, the vendor is not insolvent. In addition, no application to this effect should be pending against the owner; 

That where the property is in a block of flats, the vendor is up to date with all service charges due.

Make sure the preliminary contract fits your buyer’s specific needs when selling your Italian property

Having a tailored preliminary contract will facilitate your sale. Often estate agents use a standard form for this, but this may not meet your buyer’s specific circumstances. What happens, for example, if your buyer is purchasing subject to getting a mortgage? Make sure you cover all the bases to ensure that selling your Italian property doesn’t become more protracted than it needs to be.

Conditions precedent in a preliminary contract protect all parties when buying and selling property in Italy. However, to provide protection, conditional clauses must actually be written into the preliminary contract in order for them to be legally binding.

Selling your Italian property: completing the sale

This usually takes place in the offices of a notary (Notaio). In Italy, sellers and purchasers often use the same notary to oversee the transaction. However, you are perfectly within your rights to have your own notary.

The notary will draw up the deed of sale based on information contained in your preliminary contract.

Liability relating to an Italian deed of sale, involves not only the selling and buying parties but also the notary. Failure to disclose all relevant facts about your Italian property represents a complex legal matter which can have far-reaching consequences.

Finally …

For more detailed information about selling your Italian property, we have prepared a free Guide to Selling Property in Italy

If you are thinking of selling a property in Italy, why not talk to us? We offer a pre-sales service. This ensures that all the legal sales-related paperwork is correct before you put your property on the market.

De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property selling 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 may also be interested in Selling Property in Italy. A Short Guide.

You may also like to watch our info videos regarding Italian property law.

Power of Attorney Or Procura in Italy

Clients engage me because they trust my knowledge and experience to handle their legal affairs in Italy

Power of attorney or procura

Giandomenico De Tullio. Managing Partner. De Tullio Law Firm.

Clients often confer a power of attorney on me. This allows me to manage some or all their financial and legal affairs in Italy. It is important to understand the legal ramifications in the event you need a power of attorney or procura in Italy. A procura is frequently used for property transactions and inheritance matters.

While you may have heard of a procura, you may not be entirely sure what purpose it serves. In order to shed a little light on the subject, here are a few facts about a power of attorney or procura.

What is a procura?

A procura is a legal instrument. In accordance with Italian law, it must take the form of a notarised deed.

In effect, a procura allows you, the “principal”, to give powers to someone else, your “attorney”. The attorney may then act on the principal’s behalf.

The legal instrument specifies exactly what powers the principal gives to their appointed attorney.

Are there different types of Power of Attorney or procura in Italy?

There are two types of power of attorney in Italy, “procura speciale” and “procura generale”. The type of procura you choose will depend on whether you are granting it for specific tasks or for the execution of a series of activities not determined in advance.

Procura speciale

The powers of a procura speciale are limited. In conferring this type of procura, the principal gives very specific tasks and or limited powers to their appointed attorney. For instance, if you are purchasing a property in Italy, but cannot be in Italy to sign the deed of sale, you can confer a procura speciale on someone to sign the deed of sale on your behalf.

Likewise, for example, if you live abroad and have inherited assets in Italy but you are unable to travel to Italy to start the inheritance process. In this case, you could appoint an attorney to start probate for you or re-register assets in your name or organise the division of assets between co-heirs.

Procura generale

A procura generale entitles your appointed attorney to do almost anything you, the principal, could do. In effect, you would be delegating the management of all your legal and financial affairs.

In what circumstances can a Power of Attorney be revoked?

A principal can use the notarised deed to expressly revoke either a procura speciale  or a procura generale at any time. Otherwise, the deed usually expires with the principal’s death.

Sometimes however, a principal may decide to make a procura irrevocable. In this case, even when the principal dies or if the principal becomes legally incapcitated, the attorney’s powers to manage the principal’s affairs endure.

What should you consider if you are think of conferring a Power of Attorney?

You should be extremely careful about who you chose as your attorney. You are delegating the management of legal and financial matters to someone else. Hence, it is extremely important that you entrust these matters to a reliable and competent person, preferably a professional such as a lawyer. Appointing anyone who does not have enough experience or who may have a conflict of interests is highly inadvisable.

What are the legal requirements for a Power of Attorney?

As a procura involves drafting a legal document, you should seek independent professional advice. Because each case is different, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. The principal must clearly define the attorney’s tasks and responsibilities.

As previously mentioned, in order for a procura to be legal in Italy, it must be a notarised deed. You can sign the  document while you are in Italy, or in your home country.

Depending on your home country, the document may need to be authenticated by an apostille. You should be able to check procedures for your home country online, or we would be happy to advise you.

Finally …

Giving someone a power of attorney or procura is a very sensitive legal matter. You are granting the management of all or some of your legal and financial affairs to someone else. Make sure you seek the help of an independent legal professional before conferring a power of attorney or procura.

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice throughout Italy. We are specialists in cross border property, inheritance and family law. We are a member of STEP a global professional body, comprising lawyers, accountants, trustees and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures.

Contact us today. We are here to help.

Italian Conveyancing Lawyers

Italian conveyancing is the legal transfer of property ownership from vendor to buyer

Italian conveyancing starts when the vendor accepts your formal reservation offer. It finishes after you have signed the deed of sale.

How long the Italian property purchasing process takes depends on all sorts of things. How many buyers and vendors are involved? Often Italian properties are owned by several heirs. It may take time for all the co-heirs to agree to sell. Legal issues may also impact the the timing of the conveyancing process. For example, concerns about the location, planning, zoning, whether the property is off-plan or partially built. Basically, the whole process can take weeks or months.

Although it is not a legal requirement in Italy to engage a lawyer when purchasing a property, an experienced property lawyer can guide you through the complexities of Italian conveyancing and related paperwork as well as help resolve any legal issues that come up along the way. While instructing a lawyer may seem like an additional cost, prevention is always a less frustrating and expensive solution than remedying legal issues once you own an Italian property.

How can a lawyer help with Italian conveyancing?


EXPLANATIONS

Your lawyer will clarify the Italian property purchasing process for you. A lawyer can help identify what would be the best option in terms of purchasing structure, tax and any other issues relevant to your particular situation. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and provide legal support and advice throughout.

SEARCHES

There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with an estate agent or the vendor. These include structural and legal problems, which a lawyer can play a crucial role in identifying before you purchase.

For example, in a worst case scenario a failure to identify planning permission issues before you buy could generate consequences under criminal law. Once you have purchased an Italian property, it may be hard to rectify illegal work or planning discrepancies. In all likelihood it will be difficult to prove that the vendor was in fact the originator of the work. Legalising such problems can often be very costly and is sometimes impossible. Illegal work, when discovered, can lead to seizure of the property and a criminal court case. Seeking compensation from the vendors generally implies a litigation in court. This might take years and sometimes could turn out to be pointless if the vendors are unable to pay compensation. You may end up with a property that is unsaleable in the future.

Your lawyer will do a set of legal checks and searches for you and, where applicable your mortgage lender. Searches should include land registry titles and local authority planning and zoning compliance.

Environmental factors could be important too. For instance, some regions of Italy are particularly susceptible to ground stability issues, such as landslides and earthquakes. Your lawyer can help you arrange geological and structural surveys. If the survey finds anything out of the ordinary, your lawyer will be able to advise you what action you can take.

CONTRACTS

Throughout the Italian conveyancing process, your lawyer will check all documents and paperwork before you enter in to any legally-binding contracts. There are three contracts involved in Italian conveyancing. First, a Proposta. Second, the Compromesso and finally, the Atto di Vendita. Each contract involves handing over a deposit or payment. It is therefore crucial that you understand everything and resolve any property-related legal issues before you sign anything. Your lawyer will also make sure that completion dates are agreed and arranged.

COMPLETION

By law, a notary public – an official representative of the Italian State – must oversee the sale. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on choosing a notary and take all steps to help you complete the purchase safely. This would include where necessary, sworn translations of the atto di vendita,  help with transferring funds, collecting the new title deeds.

Italian law requires that all parties to a property transaction attend completion to sign the atto di vendita . Your lawyer will accompany you in case there are any ladt minute legal issues that need resolving. If you are not fluent in Italian but have an English-speaking lawyer, your lawyer will be able to translate for you. If for some reason you are unable to attend completion in person, your lawyer can complete on your behalf through a power of attorney.

Finally…

With over 55 years of experience as specialist property lawyers throughout Italy, we strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice before purchasing any property in Italy. If you would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch. We are here to help.

For more comprehensive information on Italian conveyancing process, you might like to read our Property Buying Guide or look at our Property Buying Checklist. You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian property law.

Hidden Defects. Buying An Italian Property

Hidden defects. Buyer beware!

Where exactly do you stand if you discover hidden defects with your Italian property following completion?

You move into your dream Italian home to find a nightmare situation.

This is exactly what happened to the Wright family in Lazio. The day after moving in, they discovered there was serious water penetration in several rooms in the house, notably the kitchen and living room.

Disclosure of hidden defects in Italy

Following their discovery, the Wrights raised the matter with the estate agent and the previous owners. They denied there was a serious problem. The notary who had overseen the sale said the Wrights had signed a legally binding preliminary contract declaring that they were purchasing the property ‘in condition as seen’. As such, there was nothing the notary could do.

Well possibly, but Italian law on this issue is not quite so clear cut. In general, the principle of, ‘caveat emptor’ – buyer beware, applies as much in Italian law as it does elsewhere. The onus is therefore on the buyer to conduct thorough due diligence relating to a property before buying it.

In Italy the seller has an obligation to disclose to the buyer all ‘important information’ concerning the property. However, there is nothing in Italian law that specifically defines these disclosures to the buyer. The law states that important information must be of a profound nature. Something which the seller was aware of at the time of the sale. An issue that if the buyer had known about it, would have halted the purchase, or they would have offered a lower price for the property.

Litigation

A vendor is obliged to disclose any ‘hidden defects’ (“vizi occulti“) in the property. If the vendor fails to disclose hidden defects, then it is possible for a court of law to annul the sale, or at least reduce the price of the property.

The Wrights ended up in litigation in order to obtain compensation. However, if the Wrights had sought advice from a lawyer before signing the preliminary contract, they could have avoided a lot of heartache not to mention a costly and time-consuming court case.

A strong preliminary contract is your best protection against hidden defects

Real estate agents generally offer a standard, one size fits all preliminary contract form. The form contains a legally binding, standard exclusion clause pertaining to ‘sight as seen condition’.

If you are in the process of buying a property in Italy before you sign a standard preliminary contract, check to see if it contains a sight as seen clause. The wording may vary but would be something like this: “L’acquirente dichiara di aver preso visione dello stato di fatto in cui attualmente si trova quanto promesso in vendita, di averne valutato le caratteristiche e le qualità (anche ai fini della determinazione del prezzo di vendita) e di accettarle integralmente”.

In practice whether a court of law upholds this clause depends on the circumstances of the case. If the court considers that the vendor has deliberately misled the buyer, then the judge may annul the clause.

Our advice to buyers is that you should always seek legal advice before signing any legally binding document. You may request removal of the sight as seen clause from a preliminary contract. The vendor may well refuse to do this. If so, you should question why.

Finally …

Purchasing a property in Italy is a major investment for most people. The preliminary contract in Italian property purchases is key to buying safely. As Italian property law specialists, we recommend that you seek legal advice. Unless you understand exactly what you are buying and the commitment you are making, you should be cautious about signing anything.

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 property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.

 

For more comprehensive information on Italian conveyancing process, you might like to read our Property Buying Guide or look at our Property Buying Checklist.

Reverse Mortgage. Italian Equity Release Scheme

Reverse mortgages provide an alternative to selling an Italian property

In December 2015 the Italian Ministry of Economic Development introduced a reverse mortgage scheme. This is a form of equity release financing.

The reverse mortgage allows home owners over the age of 60 to convert part of the value of their property into cash. The property acts as security for the loan. The owner remains the legitimate owner and retains the right to live in the property.

A reverse mortgage therefore represents an alternative to selling the property. As with any other loan, when a home owner takes a reverse mortgage, it includes a repayment plan.

Another feature of the reverse mortgage regards interests, which can be refunded either at the time the loan expires or at fixed deadlines. If a borrower chooses the refund upon expiry formula, no sum is due to the bank during the term of the loan. A refund of interest payments and any related costs occur when the borrower dies.

The amount a borrower can release as equity depends on a borrower’s age. The older the borrower, the higher the percentage of equity release. In addition, the lender takes the value of the property to secure the loan into account.

Heirs inherit reverse mortgages

Should the property owner die before repaying the loan, the decedent’s heirs inherit the debt. In terms of repayment, heirs have three options.

1. Repay the debt to the bank to clear the reverse mortgage.

2. Sell the property.

3. Allow the lender to sell the property at market value.

If the property is sold at market value, the heirs have the right to recoup any difference between the sale price and the outstanding reverse mortgage. The  lender cannot ask heirs to repay the debt, if the property fails to sell.

Finally …

If you are need help with equity release in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law 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 may also like our Guide To Selling Property in Italy. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.

Rent-Free Property Agreement: an Overview

A rent-free agreement is not for financial gain

Italian law defines a rent-free property agreement as a party lending an item they own to a borrower. The borrower may use the item for a given period of time or for a specific reason. The borrower then has the obligation to return the item to the lender. As the name implies, a rent-free agreement is not for financial gain.

Italian law does not restrict a rent-free agreements to property. Third parties might borrow all sorts of items.

For example, if you loan your a car or some gardening equipment to someone, this constitutes a rent-free property agreement. In general, it is not necessary for the agreement between the parties to be in writing. An oral agreement is legally valid.

Validity of rent-free property agreements

One of the most common examples of a rent-free property agreement pertains to a parent allowing a child to live for free in a property. And, as far as homes or properties are concerned, this type of agreement must be registered with the Italian tax authorities.

With respect to registered agreements, the 2016 Law of Stability has introduced a tax benefit. This takes the form of a 50% discount on IMU. However, the agreement is subject to three conditions. Firstly, the property must be the main residence of the occupier benefitting from the rent-free agreement. Secondly, there must be first degree kinship relationship between the parties of the contract (typically parents and children). Thirdly, the property owner can own only one additional property. The rent-free property and the other property must be in the same comune.

Other types of property rent agreements in Italy

A word about two other types of property rental agreements in Italy.

A free market agreement (contratto a libero mercato) allows the tenant and landlord to agree financial terms and conditions between themselves. This kind of rent agreement is valid for four years and renewable for an additional four-year period.

Then there is a convention agreement (contratto convenzionato). This is valid for three-year contract and has a two-year renewal option. However, the initial period can be increased to five years without a renewal option.

Finally …

We recognise that letting a property in Italy can be confusing and there are legal risks of allowing somebody into your property without an agreement. If you are planning to let an Italian property, you should always seek legal advice beforehand. we can draft a bi-lingual rental agreement for you. Likewise, if you are planning to have your land managed, you need to protect your rights.

De Tullio Law Firm has over 55 years experience of cross border and Italian property law.  We can negotiate appropriate rental agreements to meet your needs. We can also liaise between property owners and tenants. If you would like further clarifications regarding property rental, or want to discuss your situation, please contact us for a free consultation. We are here to help. 


You may also like to read about buy to rent in Italy.

Unclaimed Italian Property

What is unclaimed Italian property?

Between 1861 and 1985 over 29 million Italians emigrated to other countries. About 18 million Italians permanently settled abroad. Today several tens of millions people living abroad have Italian heritage. When Italian emigrants went abroad, they often left property and land in Italy. This is now unclaimed Italian property.

Many people think that the Italian State confiscated unclaimed property. This is a myth. The reality is that the property is still here in Italy and the original owners are still on the title deeds.

There are many thousands of unclaimed properties and parcels of land  throughout Italy. In many cases, the descendants of emigrants living outside Italy could still claim these properties.

Beware!

Over the years, descendants of Italian emigrants have contacted us for help and advice. They are trying to find their ancestors’ property in Italy. Sadly, in some cases, people have spent considerable time and substantial amounts of money before contacting us.

We have heard about people receiving letters from organisations asking for an upfront fee and promising help with locating and retrieving an unclaimed Italian property.

Needless to say, many people never hear anything once they have paid the fee. So, if you get a letter like this, be cautious. Look up the company and check credentials before you part with any money.

Seek qualified help with unclaimed Italian property

In the first instance, legitimate researchers will seek unclaimed Italian property through sources made available under freedom of information laws. For example, since 2014, the Italian Tax Authority has made it possible for the public to search online for land registry records and titles. You will need to register an account, then supply information such as:

– Name of presumed owner, even if deceased (maiden name, if female).

– Exact town of birth in Italy.

– Name of father of the presumed owner.

– Date of Birth (year) of the presumed owner (records only available post 1880).

Some people try to take a DIY approach. However interpreting search results can however make this difficult. In addition, land registry results may not always be accurate. They could, for example, be out of date or show the name of a previous owner.

If you know, or believe that your family has unclaimed property in Italy and you need help, make sure you engage the services of reputable and experienced professionals.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law with particular expertise in real estate, residency, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like to discuss your situation, we are here to help. Please get in touch with us.

Italian Property Services. Background Checks

Check the legalities before you start viewing Italian properties

You’ve seen a number of Italian properties online that you really like. You want to book flights to Italy, organise a rental car and accommodation to see the properties for yourself. But, how do you know if the properties you’ve set your heart on seeing are legally safe? Use our Italian property services. We can check the legalities before you decide whether it’s worth viewing.

Pre-purchase Italian property services

We can provide an independent and professional pre-purchase property background check. It’s simple. You give us the list of properties you want to view, we check all the legal details.

That way, you can save time and money as well as avoid problems such as properties with shared title deeds, other legal and financial complications, adverse possession or planning permission issues.

Knowing exactly where you stand before you view properties, you increase your chance of finding the right property first time. This prevents wasted trips and the expense of repeat visits and false starts.

Pre-sales Italian property services

We can also provide a pre-sales background check service for owners preparing to put their Italian property on the real estate market. Ensuring you have all the legal details in place as part of your property sales package offers vendors a competitive advantage when they market their property.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law with particular expertise in real estate, residency, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like to talk to us about out Italian property services, please get in touch with us.

 

You may also find our Guide to Buying Italian. Guide to Selling Italian Property and Property Buying Checklist useful. We also have a number of info videos which aim to help you avoid pitfalls when buying and selling Italian property.

First Property Purchases in Italy. Fiscal Benefits And Rules

Tax benefits for first property purchases are contingent on transferring residence

Property buyers in Italy often decide to take advantage of tax reductions available for first property purchases. These consist of a reduced registration tax of 2%, a
fixed cadastral tax of €50 and a fixed mortgage tax of €50.

Delaying transfer of residence other than for force majeure means losing first property purchase benefits

To benefit from fiscal reductions, buyers must transfer their residence to the municipality where the property is located. This transfer must take place within 18 months of signing the deed of sale. Missing the residence transfer deadline entails the loss of tax benefits.

Delays in transferring  residence may also involve a hefty fine unless there is an extraordinary event or circumstance that constitutes a force majeure. Examples of a force majeure event might be an earthquake, seaquake, flood, landslide. In general, an event beyond anyone’s control, which renders the property uninhabitable.

Buyers must prove force majeure to retain benefits of first time property purchases

In judgement n. 864, dated 19th January 2016, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that the purchaser should not lose the fiscal benefits granted to first time property purchases.

However, this is only applicable where a purchaser is able to prove that failure to comply with the 18-month residence transfer deadline is with cause. In other words, the delay is justifiable because of an unavoidable and unpredictable event.

Summing up then. In order to maintain fiscal benefits related to first-time property purchases, a delay in transfer of residence must be due to an event or circumstance beyond the control of the buyer. As such, the buyer must prove that the delay is unavoidable and unpredictable. If transfer is due to a general impediment, the purchaser loses fiscal benefits.

Finally …

Property buying in Italy is a serious investment for most people and, often the fulfilment of a dream. Navigating Italian real estate laws and local customs can be complex. For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our Guide to Buying Property in Italy. If you would like to discuss your situation or, if we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

De Tullio Law Firm provides specialist legal advice in all areas of Italian law. Our particular expertise is in cross-border property transactions and inheritance matters in Italy.

 

We also have a number of info videos on the subject of how to buy Italian property safely.

No Certificate of Habitability for An Italian Property?

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.

Due Diligence

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.

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.

You may like to read about the preliminary contract or you may like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.