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How to purchase Italian property by auction

Has it ever crossed your mind to purchase Italian property by auction?

purchase Italian property by auction

If you have never considered the opportunity to purchase Italian property by auction, you should know what a great deal it could be. It could turn out to be a brilliant opportunity to purchase a property for a convenient price. You could get a huge saving of up to 60 % off the offered selling price on the market.

This may be an advantageous path, but certainly not one free of pitfalls. Which makes it necessary to engage the services of a technical-legal advisor to carry out all the necessary evaluations, starting with the determination of the most likely market value of the property and concluding with thorough verification of all the legal, building, town-planning, cadastral and administrative aspects in order to reduce or, at least, contain the risks that may arise from the purchase, also in view of the absence, in forced sales, of a guarantee for defects.

But what is a property auction?

In general terms, a property auction can be defined as a competitive sale. It begins with the presentation of one or more bids with the transfer of ownership going to the highest bidder.

There are two kinds of property auctions.

1. Those for the disposal of public assets, which follows specific legal rules.

2. Those of a judicial nature, which applies whenever assets owned by a natural or legal person (known as the execution debtor) that were previously seized are subject to a forced sale. At this stage of the expropriation procedure, the sale is “forced” as it is managed by a third party (the executor judge or his/her delegate), whose objective is to liquidate the involved asset and to maximize the revenue from the sale in order to repay, in whole or in part, the creditors of the execution debtor who take part to the procedure on various grounds and guarantees.

How to participate in a real estate auction?

There are two types of auctions:

1) Sealed-bid auction

2) Open ascending-bid auction

In the first case, the participant will have to electronically submit their irrevocable and binding bids within 12:00 a.m. on the day prior to the opening of the envelopes through Portale delle Vendite Pubbliche – Public Sales Portal (now the predominant system) or in sealed envelopes that must meet a number of requirements specifically indicated in the auction notice and on the websites of the courts. The bids, under penalty of nullity, must always be accompanied by a deposit amounting to at least 10% of the offered price.

The sale by open ascending-bid auction, which is currently obsolete as it is arranged when it is considered possible to obtain a rather improbable figure, i.e., a price higher than half of the value of the property, is, in any case, a secondary and possible method, chosen in case of unsuccessful sealed-bid auction.

Participants must in this case publicly make at least one bid that is higher than the last declared price, and the auction closes when at least three minutes have elapsed since the last bid and without any further bids.

Important things to consider when purchasing Italian property by auction

Having said that, if you wish to take part in an auction, is certainly necessary getting legal support. This will help you to be informed and assisted in all the preparatory and subsequent phases of the forced sale, in particular with regard to the following information:

1. Starting price of the sale (the base price at which the asset is for sale).

2. Bid increment (minimum increase in the raise set by the executor judge).

3. Security deposit (minimum amount to pay in order to take part in the auction).

4. Date of the sale (when the auction takes place).

5. Availability of the property (state of the property: if it is vacant and/or subject to constraints of persons and/or things; the property may be occupied by virtue of a lease or a loan agreement and so on).

6. Town-planning- cadastral compliance of the property.

7. Place of the sale (auctions used to be in the courts or courts of appeal, but as of 2018 they are now mostly and preferably held online on dedicated online platforms; it is, therefore, necessary to register and access “Portale delle vendite pubbliche” of Ministry of Justice).

Finally…

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of experience managing all types of Italian property transactions. We have in-depth expertise in Italian and international legal systems and processes.

There are many potential pitfalls and legal ramifications to consider when buying Italian property at auction. We would always recommend that you seek independent professional advice before participating in an Italian property auction.

Buying Italian property at auction can be done safely but, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. if you would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch.

 

Buying A Property to Renovate in Italy

Avoid common mistakes when buying a property to renovate in Italy

Buying a property to renovate in Italy

Buying a property to renovate in Italy is a common scenario. It is also a common scenario for these projects to end in heartache.

At De Tullio Law Firm we often don’t meet these buyers until after they have purchased a property. They have usually spent way more than they expected and need to fix problems.

The best advice we can give you is to engage an Italian lawyer before buying a property to renovate in Italy. It will save you time, money and anguish.

A Renovation property in Italy: the right project for you?

No matter how experienced you are, a renovation project anywhere can be a stressful and time-consuming process. Even more so if you live overseas, can only visit Italy periodically and you are not a fluent Italian speaker. Unless a project is guaranteed to give you your dream home, or make you money, think carefully. You may be taking on the wrong property.

Make sure you know exactly what you are buying

Don’t wait to discover major legal issues such as lack of planning permission until after your purchase is complete. Having a lawyer means you have someone to work on your behalf to conduct thorough due diligence. Any legal non­-compliances will be detected before you complete the purchase.

In addition, your lawyer will assist you in obtaining a structural survey. A survey of the property will reveal important information about construction and building materials. It will highlight problems and remedial actions. Moreover, it will give you a good indication of the likely cost of renovations. It is also worth commissioning a measured survey of the building. This will give you a detailed set of floorplans and elevations on which to base your proposed renovations.

Builders

Even minor renovations can turn into a nightmare if your builders or subcontractors fail to do a good job.

Always ask for references, and speak to previous clients. Your lawyer can help you hire reputable builders and can act as project manager on your behalf throughout the project.

Buying a renovation property in Italy: costs

Work always costs more than you expect. This is because you can’t foresee some problems until renovations start. You may have to change your mind or alter designs or specifications.

Always include a budget contingency of 10 – 20% to cover unforeseen costs and fully expect to spend it.

Make sure your plans are as detailed as possible; list all the tasks and materials and, who is going to do the work. Don’t forget to allow for skips, scaffolding, tools and plant hire. Estimate costs by comparing similar projects in the area. Make sure you, and/or your lawyer, get builders’ quotes.

We would recommend that you instruct your lawyer to draft a building contract with your chosen builder. A building contract makes the builder’s quote legally binding.

Heed Italian rules and regulations when buying a property to renovate

Under no circumstances, should you ignore requirements of the Italian law, as it will eventually catch up with you. Do not undertake any work without first checking whether you need to satisfy requirements such as planning and building permits.

You may also need to notify neighbours or others regarding your renovation plans. Your lawyer can advise you if property deeds contain restrictive covenants, leases or other overriding interests in the property and land.

What are the penalties if you don’t follow the Italian law?

You may think that you can obtain the required planning permission retrospectively. However this is not always possible. Even if you can make  a retrospective planning application, it may be rejected. Your illegal work could then  constitute a criminal offence. In this case, the Italian State may seize your property. Getting your property back will likely be a very lengthy and costly process.

If you fail to obtain the relevant approvals, you will have to prove compliance. This may mean undoing completed work.

Breaching a restrictive covenant or the terms of a lease can lead to a court injunction, you may have to pay fines or even have to undo your renovations.

Before you can start renovations, you will probably need to do some demolition.  As building materials need careful disposal, demolition work is a procedure that will also require authorisation.

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 have already purchased a property but have run into trouble and would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch. We can help!

 

You may also be interested in Building a House in Italy: a short step by step guide and our Guide to Buying Property in Italy. We also have a number of info videos on the subject of how to buy Italian property safely.

Energy Performance Certificate in Italy

What is an Italian Energy Performance Certificate?

If you are purchasing a property in Italy, an Italian Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) –  Attestato di Prestazione Energetica (APE)  is an essential document.

In Italy, only an accredited engineer or surveyor can issue an EPC. As well as describing various aspects of the property such as its dimensions, condition and age, an EPC estimates energy costs for an average household. For instance, costs for lighting, heating and hot water.

An EPC provides an assessment of energy efficiency on a scale ranging from A to G. Category A is the most efficient and G is the least efficient.

Is an Italian Energy Performance Certificate mandatory?

EPC certificateItalian law made EPCs mandatory in 2013.

An EPC helps inform the sale or purchase price of an Italian property.

When buying a property in Italy, we highly recommend that you ask to see its EPC as part of your due diligence. You should see the EPC before  you sign a deed of sale.

An EPC is valid for 10 years and the onus is on the seller or landlord to provide a potential tenant or buyer with an EPC.

How do you get an EPC in Italy?

In order to obtain an EPC, you need to engage a technician accredited by the relevant Italian Regional authorities. By law, only accredited technicians can issue an EPC certificate in Italy.

In order to issue an Italian EPC, the technician performs a site inspection of the property to assess it. The technician evaluates heat transfer and the health and safety of indoor environments.

Following a thorough analysis, the professional determines which category the property falls into and enters this on an EPC form. The EPC is then delivered to the new owner or tenant of the property.

Do I need an EPC to rent or buy an Italian property?

When buying or renting a property, it is important to view its EPC so that you can budget for heating and power. This way you can estimate future costs of your utility bills.

Finally …

If you would like more information about the Italian EPC, you can read more here or, get in touch with us at info@detulliolawfirm.com We are legal specialists for Italian property matters.

Italian Property Law: Personalise Your Preliminary Contract with Conditions

Should you use a one size fits all preliminary contract for your Italian property purchase?

Preliminary Contracts in Italian Property Purchases

Before you sign a preliminary contract for an Italian property purchase, it is crucial to think about your personal situation. For example, is your purchase contingent on getting a mortgage or do you need to sell another property in order to complete this purchase? If your purchase is subject to certain circumstances, you should personalise your preliminary contract by adding conditions precedent.

Italian estate agents often use a standard preliminary contract template. This type of one size fits all preliminary contract may not be appropriate for your situation.

In fact, generally speaking, this type of standard preliminary contract may expose you to legal risks and financial penalties. In a worst-case scenario, you may end up in court.

Tailor the preliminary contract to fit your specific needs by adding conditions precedent

Conditions precedent 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.

During the due diligence process, if you find you are unable to meet the conditions precedent in the preliminary contract, you may withdraw from the purchase process. Examples of conditions precedent include:

– a property purchase being contingent on the buyer obtaining approval for a mortgage

– a buyer needing to complete the sale of another property to free up funds for the deal to proceed

– a buyer agreeing to purchase a property if it passes a property inspection and/or survey

– an offer hinging on approval from the local authorities for zoning and building permits for improvements such as changing the internal layout, an extension or installing a swimming pool.

What sort of conditions are valid in an Italian preliminary contract ?

Any condition precedent must be objective and cannot depend exclusively on the will of one of the involved parties.

According to Italian law, a condition is null and void if it is considered as merely potestative, i.e. it is considered as being in the sole interests of only one of the parties to the contract.

The most frequent and important example of a condition precedent in Italian preliminary contracts relates to mortgage approval. It is clear that all parties to the transaction stand to lose out if the buyer cannot obtain a mortgage. Under Italian law, this condition precedent cannot be classified as a purely potestative condition.

If you are not fully certain of having the financial means necessary to complete your real estate investment and you are negotiating with a bank to obtain a mortgage or, if you need to sell another property to finance the purchase, we strongly advise that the preliminary contract should indicate this as a condition precedent.

We would recommend that you seek independent legal advice if you are buying property in Italy. Have your lawyer examine all paperwork before you sign anything.

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 also be interested in Buying property in Italy

Resident in Italy for tax purposes?

One or more of the following conditions makes you resident in Italy for tax purposes

According to the provisions of Article 2 (2) of the Italian tax code, Testo Unico delle Imposte sui Redditi (TUIR), if you spend more than 183 days per fiscal year in Italy, the Italian tax authorities will consider you resident in Italy for tax purposes.

If you meet one of the following conditions, you qualify as a resident for Italian tax purposes:

  • you have registered at your local town hall’s (comune) registry office;
  • you have your domicile in Italy, i.e. your principal centre of business, economic and social interests, e.g. your family, as defined by paragraph 1 of Art. 43 of the Civil Code;
  • you have your residence in Italy, i.e. your habitual abode, as defined by the paragraph 2 of Art. 43 of the Civil Code.

The requirements indicated by TUIR are stand-alone: the occurrence of one of the above conditions is sufficient for the Italian tax authorities to consider you resident in Italy for tax purposes.

Registration at your local comune confirms your residence for tax purposes in Italy

If you spend more than 3 months in Italy you must register at your local comune.

Your registration with a comune presumes your residence in Italy for tax purposes.

At the end of your stay in Italy, you should de-register from your comune.

Double Taxation Agreements for residents of two countries

Double taxation agreements (DTA) protect a government’s rights to collect tax and protect against attempts to avoid or evade tax. DTA contain provisions for the exchange of information between national taxation authorities. There are more than 3,000 DTA world-wide.

If you can prove you are resident in two countries, you may have recourse to the application of Article 4 of the relevant DTA in order to resolve any conflict of dual residence for tax purposes. You can find more information about DTA here.

The onus is on the taxpayer to provide documented evidence of tax residence outside Italy

You will need to request a certificate of tax residence under the relevant DTA. It is also important to keep records such as travel documents and receipts. These help evidence how long you were physically present in Italy in any given fiscal year.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. If you need support with your Italian and cross border tax matters, we are here to help.

You may also be interested in Elective residence Visa Italy: general information

How to get a mortgage in Italy

Can foreign nationals get a mortgage in Italy even if they are not residents?

mortgage in italy

The short answer is yes. However, compared to foreign nationals resident in Italy, it is more complex for non-resident foreign nationals with an income that comes from outside Italy.

There are fewer options when it comes to lenders who offer mortgages to non-residents in Italy, and receiving a negative response from lenders is not unusual.

It is crucial to follow the right procedures and seek advice from professionals. Providing a mortgage to non-resident foreign nationals differs from the domestic market. This is mainly because lenders put constraints on the level of mortgage borrowing. Usually, lenders will only offer mortgages of up to 60% of the property purchase price.

Lenders have to take a number of factors into consideration pursuant to the European Mortgage Credit Directive. These include the currency of your income and your age. Generally, the mortgagee should not exceed 75 – 78 years of age by the end of the mortgage term.

A lender will also take into account the level and the source of your income; whether you are self-employed or employed for example.

In addition, a lender will required proof of creditworthiness and that you have sufficient funds to make Italian mortgage instalment payments on top of any other mortgages and loans elsewhere.

What are the steps to getting a mortgage in Italy?

The first stage of the mortgage application procedure includes gathering documents. We would always recommend that you seek independent legal advice at this stage. Your lawyer will be able to advise you what documents you need, identify whether you qualify for a mortgage and how best to proceed with your application.

Usually, obtaining financial pre-approval from a mortgage lender takes 3 – 4 weeks in Italy. The second stage of the mortgage application involves due diligence requested by the lender. This will entail getting a legal report and a technical survey of the property you want to purchase. If technical and legal assessments are accepted by the lender, the mortgage application will progress to the lender’s final approval.

It is essential to highlight that the real estate you wish to buy with your mortgage must be habitable and in compliance with current Italian technical, energy performance and building regulations on the matter. In the event that finalising your Italian property purchase is contingent on obtaining a mortgage, it is vital that the property you wish to buy meets the stated requirements of habitability and technical regulations. You should also make sure that the preliminary contract reflects the fact that your purchase is subject to getting a mortgage.

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 and inheritance matters. Get in touch.

1 Euro Houses in Italy

1 Euro houses in Italy: too good to be true?

In recent years, to combat dwindling populations in rural areas of Italy, a number of Italian villages, have been launching charm offensives by putting a number of houses up for sale for the symbolic sum of 1 Euro.

The aim of local municipalities is to attract Italian and foreign investors to revitalise their areas. Cinquefrondi in Calabria is the latest Italian town to launch 1 Euro houses in Italy for sale.

Although these 1 Euro property schemes seem attractive, it may be wiser to pass on them. The €1 schemes are widely advertised and, with so many people expressing interest in these homes, there are always more applications than homes available.

How do you buy 1 Euro houses in Italy?

Whereas other towns selling homes for 1 Euro have required a deposit of up to €5000 that buyers forfeit if they fail to renovate the house within three years, Cinquefrondi is requesting an annual €250 fee for an insurance policy, payable until renovation works are complete.

Located in the historical centre of Cinquefrondi, properties are roughly 40 – 50 square metres in size. New owners will be liable to a fine of €20,000 if they do not complete their renovation projects within three years.

1 Euro houses at auction

As with all 1 Euro house schemes around Italy, sales take place in public auction (vendita con incanto).

It’s impossible to tell what you are taking on just from looking at a few photos of a property.

In some countries house auctions are common. In Italy however, they are not. The vendor’s lawyer does not prepare a set of documentation known as a, “legal pack”. Legal packs contain essential information including official titles and searches, property information and planning permission are therefore not available. In effect, you are responsible for conducting property-related searches.

To avoid buying what seems like a bargain but subsequently turns out to be a money pit, it is advisable that you go and inspect the property before you decide to make a bid. Obviously, this may not be possible because of time constraints and it can become costly. As you may not speak fluent Italian or have the expertise to assess what you are bidding for, we would recommend that you seek independent legal advice and professional expertise in Italy to evaluate the property before you submit a bid.

1 Euro is just the opening bid for properties

In fact, usually properties end up costing at least €20.000 at auction. On top of this, there is the legal requirement to renovate within a specific time frame. These properties therefore often end up costing a minimum of €50.000.

There are plenty of other reasonably-priced houses in Italy without the terms and conditions attached to €1 property schemes. These properties may be a better option for you.

Finally…

If you are thinking of applying to buy a 1 euro house in Italy, or any other property in Italy, at De Tullio Law Firm, we can help you with everything from property checks and searches, to facilitating the transaction, liaising with construction companies, obtaining Italian residence and providing tax and inheritance advice.

 

Homes for 1 Euro in Sambuca, Sicily (Italy)

Attestato di prestazione energetica (APE)

An Attestato di Prestazione Energetica is the Italian for an Energy Performance Certificate

An Attestato di Prestazione Energetica (APE) describes the energy characteristics of a property.

In Italy an APE is mandatory in order to sell or let a property.

When is an APE mandatory?

An APE is a legal requirement that came into effect on 1st July 2009 for property sales and 1st July 2010 for property lets.

Since January 2012, real estate advertisements must include a property’s energy performance index (value in kWh / sqm per annum).

In most cases, an APE is valid for 10 years. In order to maintain the validity of the Attestato di Prestazione Energetica, property owners must have their boilers serviced in accordance with requirements of the Italian law.

How do you get an APE in Italy?

An APE can only be issued by a qualified professional called a,  “certificatore energetico”. Italian Regional administrations are responsible for training and accrediting technicians according to their own regulations.

At the time of writing, about half of the Italian Regions have yet to adopt their own regulations. Where a Region hasn’t implemented its own regulations, national law (Legislative Decree 192/05) applies.

The certificatore energetico is a technical expert with specific skills in the field of building and systems energy efficiency. For example, an architect, an engineer or a surveyor.

How is an APE issued?

An onsite inspection of the property is mandatory.

The certificatore energetico uses software to assess the characteristics of the property. This includes input about structural aspects of the building, walls and frames – both doors and windows. The inspection also takes into consideration the efficiency of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, hot water and energy production systems such as photovoltaic panels.

Based on all the input, the software calculates the property’s level of energy efficiency and the certificatore energetico issues the APE. In addition, the certificatore energetico submits a copy of the APE to the competent Regional authority.

You should keep your APE with your boiler manual and, when you sell or let your property, provide it to the new owners or tenants.

If you are buying a property in Italy, you should request its APE well before you sign a deed of sale.

How much does an APE cost?

There is no set fee. Costs depend on the location and the characteristics of the property. As a guideline, the price of an APE for an apartment varies on average between € 150 and € 250. For bigger properties such as villas, townhouses, shops and offices, the cost is higher.

Why do you need an APE?

As previously mentioned an APE is a statutory requirement.

Its main purpose is to evaluate the financial implications of energy consumption when buying or renting a property. An APE also provides recommendations to reduce energy consumption and costs.

Although, it may seem like just another bureaucratic process, the APE is a document that can help with marketability. Properties with lower energy consumption are more sought after when it comes to selling or letting them.

In addition, the Italian government offers green incentives for energy efficient new build constructions and renovations to existing properties that improve energy efficiency. For renovation-related incentives, you can use before and after APEs to prove that you have improved energy efficiency.

Avoid Attestato di Prestazione Energetica scams!

There have been a number of scams associated with APE issuance. Our advice is to make sure you check that your certificatore energetico has been accredited by your Region. Compare estimates in your area. Make sure that the estimate includes VAT, postal costs, expenses and any other additional costs. Be wary of excessively low prices or anyone who tells you that you don’t need an onsite inspection. And watch out for intermediaries who offer their own expert at an excessive price.

Finally …

An APE is also useful when obtaining a Certificate of Habitability for a property.

If you have any questions about an Attesto di Prestazione Energetica, or if you need support or help with getting an APE, we would always advise that you seek independent legal advice.

 

You may also be interested in What is an italian Energy Performance Certificate?

Cura Italia Decree. March 2020

Wide-ranging central bank and government policies and stimulus packages are supporting the economy during the COVID pandemic. The Italian government has moved quickly to activate a fiscal package to support businesses and individuals through the crisis.

The measures introduced in the “Cura Italia Decree” take a three pronged approach. Firstly, they aim to reinforce the health sector through these difficult times. Secondly, they help alleviate the impact of the COVID pandemic on business in general and thirdly they support daily life for individuals and families.

Below we summarise some of the measures included in the Cura Italia Decree.

Cura Italia Decree. Suspension of payments

VAT registered companies and professionals with their fiscal domicile, registered office or place of business in Italy, whose turnover did not exceed €2 million in the fiscal year preceding the entry into force of the Cura Italia Decree, are eligible to defer the following payments:

– VAT (balance due on the VAT return and payment due on February 2020)

– Withholding Tax on employee / similar  income

– Social Security Contributions

These payments are now due by 31/05/2020 either in full or they can be made in 5 equal instalments starting from May 2020. No interest or penalties are applicable.

Cura Italia Decree. Suspension of obligations due between 08/03/2020 – 31/05/2020

 

  Previous Due Date New Due Date
VAT Return 30/04/2020 30/06/2020
TR Form 30/04/2020 30/06/2020
Esterometro (Jan./Feb./ Mar.) 30/04/2020 30/06/2020
Intra Form 25 monthly taxpayer or quarterly 30/06/2020
SSP Form 30/04/2020 30/06/2020
EAS Form 31/03/2020 30/06/2020

Dates for Income tax returns have not been extended and must therefore be submitted on 30/11/2020 and 30/06/2020 respectively.

There have also been no changes to income tax payment deadlines. That is to say, based on the self-assessment system, payments are due in June (30/06/2020) and November (30/11/2020) respectively.

Regarding companies, the Cura Italia Decree provides an extension for approval of financial statements to 180 days from the end of the financial year. In addition it allows for a deferment of tax payments. Given travel restrictions, annual general meetings to approve financial statements can move online via for example, video-conferencing.

  Date Income tax payments
Approval within 120 days from end of 2019 30/04/2020 (regular) 30/06/2020 – 30/11/2020
Approval within 180 days from end of 2019 28/06/2020 31/07/2020 – 30/11/2020
Approval within 180 days from end of 2019 (maximum add 30 days) 28/07/2020 31/08/2020 – 30/11/2020

IMU (property tax), payment deadlines also remain as is: 16th June, 2020 and 16th December, 2020.

Cura Italia Decree: Suspension of payments due between 2/3/2020 – 30/04/2020 for hospitality and leisure sector

The government has extended payments by one month for companies in the tourism-hotel sector with reference to VAT, withholding tax, social security contributions. However, these tax liabilities must be paid in full by 31/05/2020 or in 5 instalments from that date.

Cura Italia Decree: Payments to Tax Collection Agency (Agenzia Riscossione)

The Cura Italia Decree provides for the suspension of tax payments due in the period between 08/03/2020 and 31/05/2020 arising from bills issued by Tax Collection Agencies.

In addition, a suspension also applies to notices issued by the Italian Customs Agency as well as injunctions and further collection notices issued by municipalities or local authorities.

Furthermore, a suspension also applies to payments of facilitated settlement of tax bills (Rottamazione-ter). Instalments due in February will now therefore be payable on 31/05/2020.

Other liabilities

Payments on debts to other collection agencies (Agenzia Riscossione) including for instance INPS and Italian Customs that are payable between 8/03/2020 – 31/05/2020 have been deferred until 30/06/2020. However, suspension of payments does not extend to payment reminder notices from the Italian tax authority (Agenzia delle Entrate).

Other measures

A tax credit of 60% on rent for commercial premises (cadastral category C/1) for March 2020.

Companies can activate lay-off procedures. The Cura Italia Decree includes provisions in order to support employers who are facing a reduction or suspension of activities due to the Covid-19 emergency. This means employers can use a simplified procedure to apply for ordinary social security funds (cassa integrazione) for employees who were already employed by 23 February 2020. This support lasts for a maximum of nine weeks and, in any case, no later than August 2020.

In consideration of the lockdown of several economic sectors in Italy, additional indemnity payments for registered VAT self-employed entrepreneurs or professionals who do not benefit from specific social security coverage have been agreed. Payments of Euro 600.00 per month in lieu of income. Although procedures have yet to be announced, the payment of this allowance will be borne by INPS.

Requests for a suspension of first home mortgage payments is to be made to the relevant credit institution.

Finally …

While this summary does not provide an exhaustive explanation of the contents of the Cura Italia Decree, it aims to provide a brief overview of the measures that the Government has adopted. Although details regarding the implementation of measures are pending, each of the measures has specific requirements that will be implemented by provisions issued on a ministerial and regional level. Get in touch for additional information.

You may also like to read about how the pandemic has impacted the Italian property market.

Italian Real Estate Agency Services

Italian Real Estate Agency Services

A real estate agents’ role is to connect vendors with buyers

The first step in purchasing a home in Italy is to look for properties that you like. For this, services of a licensed real estate agent provide invaluable support.

Real estate agents facilitate property transactions. They provide relevant information to buyers and vendors. However, Italian real estate agents have no legal obligation to undertake searches of a technical or legal nature (due diligence).

Clearly, a lack of due diligence could in the first instance impact the transaction itself. Further down the line, if you didn’t conduct due diligence prior to buying, you might run into issues. You may discover the property lacks of full or partial planning permission or that renovations do not conform with building regulations. Crucially, a lack of due diligence may effect the future saleability of your property.

Real estate agents in Italy are of course required to disclose information based on the principles of a professional duty of care. This implies an obligation to provide information on any circumstances or issues that potential buyers should know about. Imparting incorrect or false information to an interested party is illegal.

Real estate agents have a duty of care

In 2012, the  Milan Court of Appeal heard a case regarding an estate agency’s duty of care: ruling no. 307 filed on 27th  January 2012.

Clients of a real estate agency took them to court on the grounds that the agent had failed to provide relevant information on adverse encumbrances on a property the clients wished to purchase.

The clients sued the real estate agent for a refund of the €6,000 commission fee they had paid to the agency. They argued that the real estate agency had been derelict in their duty of care. The clients claimed that the real estate agency should have communicated the existence of two mortgage transcriptions on the property. They maintained they would not have signed a reservation offer or a preliminary contract had they known. Signing the latter triggered the commission payment to the real estate agent.

The court dismissed the case.

The onus is on potential buyers to conduct pre-purchase due diligence

In support of the court decision, the judge stated that legal searches did not form part of a real estate agent’s responsibilities. In other words, technical and legal investigations, including land registry, planning, zoning and mortgage searches on a property do not form part of a real estate agent’s remit.

What does Italian law say about the scope of real estate agency services?

Article 1759 of the Italian Civil Code requires real estate agents to notify parties of all known circumstances concerning a property transaction.

In this case,  the real estate agency had done this. They argued that as they had no prior knowledge of the encumbrances, they could not have informed the clients of their existence. The real estate agency had only become aware of the mortgage transcriptions when the clients informed them. The clients had only learned of the encumbrances when they were about to complete the sale.

There was no evidence that the real estate agency had any knowledge of the mortgages. The judge ruled they had not wilfully omitted to advise the clients about the adverse encumbrances. The responsibility for ascertaining this information did not lie with the real estate agent but, with the purchaser.

Article 1176 of the Italian Civil Code states that performance of checks and searches related to a property is not part of the agent’s professional duty of care. Furthermore, estate agents are neither legally responsible, nor qualified, to conduct in-depth due diligence.

Anything pertaining to the legal and technical due diligence of Italian property purchases should therefore be handled by legal and technical professionals.

Real estate agents facilitate the search for an Italian property

However, Italian real estate agents do not provide due diligence services.

When buying or selling a property at home, most people wouldn’t dream of entering into a transaction without the assistance of a lawyer and a surveyor. These are the professionals who conduct legal and technical searches and checks. Yet all too often, we meet foreign buyers who have decided to rely on what an estate agent tells them about a property.

Finally …

The reality is that a property transaction in Italy is an investment. It can quickly become costly – both financially and emotionally if things go wrong. In addition, there are the complexities of the Italian legal, tax and administrative systems. On top of this, there are the language barriers.

Essentially, in order to avoid any problems and before you sign any paperwork, you should engage an experienced, independent lawyer. The need for legal advice is far greater for an overseas transaction than when buying property at home.

De Tullio Law firm specialises in cross-border residential and commercial property transactions in Italy. We recommend that before you sign any paperwork with an estate agent that you seek independent legal advice.

Get in touch if you feel unsure about anything property-related and need advice.

 

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