Tag Archive for: Notary Public

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.

Italian House: Structural Issues. Where Do You Stand?

I bought an Italian house then discovered big cracks in the walls 

According to your email, you have just moved into the Italian house you purchased three months ago. Unfortunately you have discovered some serious cracks in the living room and kitchen walls.

You immediately called in a surveyor (geometra), who has informed you that there’s a serious structural problem. In effect, the problem means the property is uninhabitable. You expect to receive a full written report from the surveyor within the next few days. 

What legal action can you take regarding the defects in your Italian house

In this case, you have a legal entitlement to dispute the legality of the deed of sale (atto di vendita). However, you will need to take prompt action.

According to Italian Civil Code Sales Contract Law, the vendor is only liable for a short period.

Article 1495 of the Italian Civil Code provides that the purchaser must take legal action within one year from the delivery date of a product. In your case this would be the date you signed the deed of sale for your Italian house.

In addition, you can only take legal action if you, the purchaser, have declared the defect to the vendor within 8 days of discovering the issue.

What does Italian case law say about latent defects in an Italian house?

A ruling by the Court of Caltanissetta in May 2016 stated that if a vendor hides serious structural issues from a purchaser, this constitutes a breach of contract.

Structural defects, such as big cracks in the walls, significantly reduce the value of real estate property and may even render the property uninhabitable.

If a buyer discovers defects in an Italian property after signing the deed of sale, the buyer has the right to reverse the property transaction. This must however take place within the previously mentioned time frame.

Under Italian Civil Code, if the buyer and vendor cannot reach an amicable resolution, the buyer can institute legal proceedings against the vendor. This is with a view to obtaining restitution of the price the purchaser paid for the property. In exchange, the purchaser must return the property to the vendor.

The buyer has the right to rescind the transaction regardless of the cause of structural defects

In essence, a purchaser has the right to rescind the deed of sale either on the grounds of construction defects, namely the builder’s responsibility, or because of external factors such as subsidence.

This is valid even if the buyer had the property inspected by a surveyor prior to purchasing it. Structural defects are deemed latent. In other words, they are hidden or difficult to see with the naked eye. Therefore, even if a surveyor inspected the property, the defects may not have been visible.

It should be pointed out that patent defects would not entitle a buyer to rescind a deed of sale. Patent defects are those that are easy to see or visible, such as a window that does not close properly, or missing tiling.

Litigation is the traditional process for resolving legal disputes on civil matters

Litigation involves a party starting court action. The plaintiff or claimant is seeking a legal or equitable remedy. By law, a defendant must respond to the plaintiff’s complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, a court will find in the plaintiff’s favour.

In Italy, court cases are generally costly and protracted processes. We would advise you wherever possible, to settle out of court. Parties can settle at any stage. If the dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation, as a last resort, it will need to go to court.

Litigation is tried and tested with a vast body of case law. The court will impose a final decision that parties must respect. The outcomes of litigation are, without exception, legally binding and enforceable, while being subject to appeal.

Ruling by the Court of Caltanissetta

The case we previously mentioned, involved the purchase of a newly constructed apartment. Shortly after moving in, the new owners noticed some cracks on the walls and floors. They spoke to neighbours in their building and discovered that other neighbours had similar problems.

The owners got together and started a litigation against the vendors. The plaintiffs were seeking reversal of their purchase contracts and compensation for damage. The plaintiffs accused the vendors of deliberately hiding the real condition of the properties. For their part, the defendants claimed the buyers had seen the properties before signing the deed of sale.

However, the purchasing parties had only noticed, “a few little holes”, maintaining that, “the real problem hadn’t yet emerged.” Despite the defendants’ declarations, the court ruled that the vendors knew the true state of the apartments because they had participated in a meeting at the Town Hall’s Technical Office, to discuss geological issues related to the site.

The court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favour.

Vendor’s duty

Anyone who sells a good – a mobile phone, a garment, a pair of shoes, or any other item including an Italian house or property – has to guarantee that the good has no inherent flaw. In effect, this guarantees that the item is fit for purpose.

Italian Civil Code states that a vendor of any item must guarantee that the item has no faults, which would make it unusable or unsuitable for its intended use, or would significantly reduce its value.

In the Caltanissetta case, the property presented defects which could cause instability. That would entail a huge risk for the new owner’s safety.

Finally …

Italian contract law is complex. In the case of a litigation, the deed of sale is of great importance. It is vital that you understand the contractual terms and conditions. The deed of sale affects your options to make claims against the vendor. You should always seek independent legal advice when you purchase an Italian property. In order to avoid any conflicts of interest, this should be a lawyer who is not involved with any other parties (vendor, developer).

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of experience managing property transactions throughout Italy. We are always pleased to hear from our readers. If you have a question that you would like us to answer, please get in touch with us.

If you are looking for more information about the Italian property purchasing process, please read our free Guide To Buying Italian Property. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.

Do You Have A Dormant Account in Italy?

How does Italian law define dormant accounts?

According to Italian law, a dormant account contains a sum over €100 that has not been moved by the owner for a period of 10 years.

A dormant account may be with a bank or other financial institution and can be an account or financial instrument. This includes any inactive deposits in savings account books, bank accounts, postal accounts, shares, bonds and government securities.

Is it true that funds in a dormant account can be transferred into an Italian government fund? 

Rules establish that financial institutions can terminate contractual relationships dormant for 10 years or more with sums of at least €100. These dormant funds transfer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. Article 1 paragraph 343 Law 2005 n. 266 designates these funds for social purposes. 

However, before any sum devolves into the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance fund, the owners of a dormant account must receive notification from the financial institution.

Thereafter, owners have a period of 180 days to reactivate the dormant account. Either owners can make a transaction or, they can notify the financial institution of their wish to continue the contractual relationship. 

Even if sums have transferred to the government fund, the account owner may still claim a refund. Owners of dormant accounts have 10 years to claim a refund.

Who is entitled to a refund? 

Provided that the ten year statute of limitation has not elapsed, owners of accounts or their assignees can claim a refund. The ten year statute of limitation starts from the date the financial institution transferred sums to the government fund, or the issuance of a banker’s draft.

How do you get a refund?

First, you will have to prove you are the owner or beneficiary of a dormant account. In order to do this you will need to visit the Consap website. This system will ascertain if a dormant account exists according to the data you provide and permit you to download a refund form, which you will need to fill.

Where you have inherited a dormant account, you will need to provide a self-certification document, which will be verified by Consap.

Owners of dormant accounts should check the Consap website for details or they can send their application to:

Consap S.p.A.

Rif. Rapporti dormienti

Via Yser, 14

I-00198 Roma

or via e-mail to rapportidormienti@consap.it

Claimants will need to supply proof of their right to a refund. The type of documents will depend on personal circumstances. These may include:

– Copy of identity card or other ID of the applicant entitled to refund.

– Copy of fiscal code of the applicant entitled to refund.

– The account owner’s death certificate.

– Copy of savings passbook or of a bank statement.

– Statement attesting heir’s entitlement.

– Statement of termination of contractual relationship by the financial institution.

– Notification of transfer to the government fund.

After verifying entitlement to a refund, Consap will transfer payment through methods such as a bank transfer or a banker’s draft.

What if you have moved or haven’t received bank notification about a dormant account?

First, you should contact the financial institution you think may hold an account to ascertain if you are the owner of a dormant account. Secondly, you should notify the financial institution regarding any change of residence. In effect, notification of a change of residence is sufficient to reactivate a dormant account.

I’ve received a letter from the bank but, the dormant account owner has passed away. 

In this case, it is important to remember that not only the owner of a dormant account can reactivate it. An executor can also do this. If there is no executor, beneficiaries should notify the financial institution of their entitlement to succeed to the deceased’s account. Beneficiaries should present the owner’s death certificate with Italian probate and succession documents.

What if there is more than one dormant account at the same bank?

Owners don’t have to reactivate all their dormant accounts. Reactivating one account is sufficient. For example, if there is a dormant current account and a dormant deposit account, reactivating one will make both active.

Finally …

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

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

If you would like to discuss anything, you can reach us here for a free consultation.

Buying Italian Property. Advice for Expats

If you are buying Italian property, never sign any paperwork without fully understanding the implications

The most important piece of advice for expats buying Italian property is that they should never sign any paperwork without getting it checked.

If you don’t fully understand all the legal implications of paperwork, your signature could result in potential financial and/or legal problems. In addition, your signature may negate any possibility of complaints at a later date.

We would always recommend that you use an experienced, independent property lawyer to safeguard your Italian purchase. A surprising number of expats buying Italian property don’t use a lawyer. Instead, they take a DIY approach or use someone unqualified such as the estate agent or vendor. It is not uncommon that this ends up being a stressful and expensive mistake.

Expats buying in Italy may encounter language barriers

If you are not a fluent Italian speaker, it’s important to engage a lawyer who speaks your language. This ensures you not only have crucial legal advice but also a someone who can act as a legal translator. As previously mentioned, the issue of signing paperwork is critical. Expats should only sign documents that they fully understand, which may mean that documents need translating. In fact, when you complete the purchase, the Italian notary may require a translation of the deed of sale. In addition, you may also have to engage an interpreter at completion. However, if you have a lawyer who speaks your language, this will not be necessary.

In order to avoid conflicts of interest, the lawyer should be independent of the estate agent and/or the vendor.

Make sure your lawyer has a license to practice. In other words, your lawyer should be a member of the Italian Bar Association. The lawyer should also have public liability insurance.

Estate Agents

It is worth bearing in mind that regardless of how charming and friendly an estate agent is, at the end of the day, an estate agent is a sales person working on a commission from the sale of the property. They are not qualified to provide legal advice and do not conduct due diligence on properties. The base their sales information on what the vendor tells them.

An estate agent may ask you to sign an agent’s brokerage contract, which could include up front fees.

Make sure that your estate agent is from a reputable company. Italian estate agents must register with their local chamber of commerce. They should have a certificate issued by the local town hall as proof of their professional registration.

Surveys

Many expats buying Italian property decide not to invest in the knowledge and expertise of a professional surveyor.

Construction quality varies hugely in Italy and you cannot know everything about a property just from viewing it with the vendor or estate agent. Buyers should ensure the property they want to purchase is actually worth the money they are paying. This means checking there are no fundamental problems. Amongst other things, structure, planning, zoning, ownership and geological location.

Certificate of Habitability

It’s also surprising how many expats buy a property that has neither electricity nor water connections. If a property has no utility connections, it may indicate a problem. It suggests that the property may not have a Certificate of Habitability. If this is the case, the property may never gain mains utilities despite what the vendor or estate agent claims. When it comes to reselling the property, later on, it is likely to be a struggle to find a buyer.

Buying an Italian off-plan property

Expats should exercise caution if buying an off-plan property. There are many risks entailed with buying Italian off-plan property. One of the major risks is that a developer becomes insolvent during the build. Never make large payments as a deposit to secure what appears to be a dream home.

Ensure, amongst other things, that the developer or building company has a building licence for the property before parting with any cash. Don’t be afraid to ask the property developer about their portfolio, their history of delivering quality buildings, on time. Ask for references. If you are buying a resale property, check that there are no hidden fees or legal complications.

Take your time. Don’t be rushed

When buying a property in Italy, don’t rush into a purchase and, never buy a home on impulse. Think long term. Always assess the pros and cons, research the area and understand all the present and future legal and tax aspects.

Familiarise yourself with the process of buying Italian property

Because the process of buying a property in Italy can move quickly and expats should be prepared for the purchase completion taking between four to eight weeks on average.

The purchasing process in Italy is completely different to the UK, the USA and many other parts of the world. First, the buyer makes an offer on the property. If it’s accepted, then the buyer and vendor will sign a reservation offer and the buyer will pay a small deposit. Second, the buyer and seller will sign a preliminary contract at which point the buyer will pay another deposit, usually a minimum of 10% of the sale price. Finally, at completion, the new owners pay the balance of the sale price, along with other costs and taxes.

It is important that expats appreciate all the financial and legal implications of each stage of the process.

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. Our particular expertise is in cross-border real estate, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like more information, or you need advice and support with your Italian property purchase, please get in touch with us.

Italian Property Survey – Need One Or Not?

Should you have a survey before you buy property in Italy?

Because for most people buying a property is a major expense, not commissioning an Italian property survey is a false economy.

A surveyor, “geometra”, will provide you with invaluable information and support during the property purchasing process. This information will help save you money both prior to and after completion.

Buyer beware!

In Italy, property is purchased under the principle of ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’. In other words, the onus is on the buyer to ensure that there are no issues with the property. This includes land purchases.

If you purchase an Italian property and subsequently discover a problem, it is always time-consuming, frustrating and costly to resolve.

Amongst other things, an Italian property survey will reveal hidden defects, illegally built structures, planning and zoning issues. In addition, a geometra will highlight any areas of the property that require repair or maintenance. It is important to be aware of all these issues. After completion, you will have to pay to rectify any defects. You may even have to take legal action through the Italian courts to get a refund from the vendors.

An Italian property survey can save thousands of Euros

It is important to make sure you are not overpaying for your Italian property. A common misconception is that the vendor’s or estate agent’s valuation is based on Italian property market prices. Obtaining a valuation as part your survey will give you the true value of a property. The valuation will take into consideration any defects uncovered and repairs needed. This will ensure you pay a fair price for your property. A survey can therefore save thousands of Euros.

The importance of an Italian property survey

The support of a surveyor during the home buying process is invaluable, but it can also be extremely useful after completion. Depending on the type of survey you commission, the report will give detailed information about parts of the property that may require attention in the future thus allowing you to budget those costs going forward. In addition, a surveyor can give you preliminary advice on any plans you may have to extend or alter the property in the future.

Finally …

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 can guide you through the whole purchasing process or organise the whole process, including an Italian property survey, on your behalf. Get in touch with us.

If you would like further information about buying an Italian property, you may find our buying in Italy guide useful.

 

The Italian Rent to Buy Scheme. Information And FAQ

Introducing the Italian rent to buy scheme

In September 2014, the Italian parliament introduced measures to revitalise the property real estate sector. Measures include an Italian rent to buy scheme as part of the Sblocca Italia – Unlock Italy – decree (Article 23 of Legislative Decree 133/2014).

The Italian rent to buy scheme has two main aims. Firstly to help people purchase a property and secondly to support builders and developers sell property stock.

The Italian rent to buy scheme is similar to the UK model

It allows a promissory purchaser to immediately start living in a property as a tenant and provides the option to purchase the property at a later date.

As a tenant, the promissory purchaser pays a regular rent. In effect, this postpones the purchase of the property until a specified future date. Purchase should take place no more than 10 years from the start of the rent to buy contract. Rental payments reduce the overall property price.

Decree 133/2014 addresses and resolves problems that stemmed from the lack of specific legislation in this domain. Notably, the decree provides for the legal transcription of a rent to buy contract in the land registry for the duration of the contract.

Essentially, the land registry transcription counts as a full and proper reservation of the purchase of the property. Consequently, the owner of the property cannot sell it to anyone else for the duration of the contract.

No mortgages or easements or any other prejudicial rights can be held on the property. Creditors of the property owner / vendor will neither be able to register a mortgage on the property, nor foreclose on it.

As soon as a rent to buy contract is in the land registry, this guarantees that the property is reserved for the promissory purchaser. Any other transcription or registration will be unenforceable against it.

Frequently asked questions about the Italian rent to buy scheme

What is a rent to buy contract?

The contract combines a rental contract and a preliminary contract of sale for a specific property. This means that from the outset of the contract, the owner/vendor gives the promissory purchaser the right to buy the property. The promissory purchaser is able to live, as a tenant, in the property and pays a regular rent. After a contractually agreed period of time, but not more than 10 years, the promissory purchaser may decide to buy the property. The owner must deduct rent paid during the term of the rent to buy contract.

Example: Consider the sale of a villa for €100,000. The monthly rent is €1,000 per calendar month. A part of this rental payment, €500, is the rent payment for living in the property, as if it were a normal rent. The remaining €500, counts toward the purchase of the property. In effect, this portion of the monthly rent constitutes a down payment on the sales price.  If the term of the rent to buy contract is 5 years and at that point, the promissory purchaser decides to buy the property, rather than pay €100,000, the promissory purchaser pays the outstanding EUR 70,000. This is because €30,000 has already been paid as part of the rent to buy scheme.

Is the promissory purchaser obliged to buy the property at the end of the rent to buy contract?

The law provides for an option to buy the property. However, there is no obligation. Obviously the parties may agree that the tenant must purchase, but that contract would not be subject to rent to buy legislation. It is merely a private arrangement.

How long does a rent to buy contract last?

The parties to the rent to buy contract establish the period within which the tenant may decide to buy the property. According to legislation,  this must be within 10 years from the start of the rent to buy contract.

What are the benefits of a rent to buy contract for property vendors?

The main advantage is the ability to find a larger number of potential buyers.

What are the risks of a rent to buy contract for property vendors?

There are a couple of risks. Firstly, a tenant may decide not to buy the property. In this case, however, the owner can retain part or all of the rent payments. These should be a sum greater than a normal rental income.

The other risk is that the tenant doesn’t abide by contractual terms, becomes insolvent or causes significant damage to the property. This may mean the property owner has to go to court to evict the promissory purchaser, regain possession of the and free the property from contractual obligations in order to sell it to others.

What does an eviction order entail in terms of time and cost?

The procedure is not strictly-speaking an eviction, but the release of a property. Generally, this is a much shorter and less costly process. Just how long the release of a property takes very much depends on individual courts.

In order to use a property release procedure, the rent to buy contract must contain legally compliant and watertight clauses. You should always seek independent legal advice in structuring the entire rent to buy contract. It is crucial to ensure that you cover everything.

Are there any measures in place to safeguard the owner /vendor?

It is imperative that the rent payments are higher than a normal rent contract. In the event that the sale does not conclude, the retainer payment that the property owner retains serves as compensation.

Commitment to retainer conditions also serves as an indication of the promissory purchaser’s commitment to conclude the transaction at term.

What protection does rent to buy provide for promissory purchasers?

The law provides for the transcription of an Italian rent to buy contract in the land registry. In the same way a deed of sale is managed. A notary – an official of the Italian State –  must oversee the rent to buy contractual process. The contract must be legally compliant. The transcription in the land registry guarantees that the promissory purchaser has agreed to buy a property free of mortgages, liens, foreclosures, or any other detrimental matters, which might arise following the transcription of the rent to buy contract. The land registry transcription is valid for a maximum term of 10 years.

This protection holds even if the property vendor / owner is declared bankrupt during the term of the rent to buy contract.

What type of property can be included in rent to buy contracts?

Rent to buy contracts are valid for any type of property. This includes apartments, houses, farms, garages, vineyards, shops, offices, factories, land.

Are rent to buy contracts also applicable to buildings under construction?

Yes. Rent to buy contracts are applicable to buildings under construction. For contractual purposes, any pre-existing mortgage on the construction must be repaid. If after careful consideration and having taken independent advice, the promissory purchaser wishes to assume a pre-existing mortgage, it is however possible to provide a clause to that effect.

For building and development companies, rent to buy contracts can represent an interesting way to finance mortgage payments for property construction.

Regarding rent to buy contracts for buildings under construction, does the promissory purchaser lose money if the builder or developer goes into administration?

No. The buy to rent contract continues even if the property vendor / owner is declared bankrupt. So long as there is a price agreement in the rent to buy contract and the property is the main residence of the promissory purchaser or close relatives, the owner / vendor’s insolvency will not impact the sale.

Can the promissory purchaser confer a power of attorney to sign the rent to buy contract?

Yes. Legislation provides the right to confer a power of attorney on a third party to sign the rent to buy contract, and the final deed of sale, where applicable, on the promissory purchaser’s behalf.

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

What taxes are applicable with a rent to buy contract?

Tax depends on whether the owner / vendor of the property is a private individual or a company. Direct tax is chargeable to the owner / vendor and indirect tax is levied on the promissory purchaser.

As a rule of thumb, for the duration of the rent to buy contract, as with any Italain rent contract, tax related to the property ownership is borne by the vendor / owner.

The promissory purchaser pays costs pertaining to the transcription of the contract in the land registry. And, where applicable, the promissory purchaser is liable for any subsequent costs, expenses and tax liabilities and/or costs associated with completion of the property sale.

For tax calculation purposes, each rent to buy contract requires case by case assessment regarding advantages and/or disadvantages. This is another reason to involve an independent professional from the outset when considering a rent to buy scheme in Italy.

Finally …

If you do not find your question relating to the Italian rent to buy scheme here, please contact us and we will be happy to answer it for you.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we specialise in Italian and cross border legal matters. If you are buying any type of property anywhere in Italy and you need advice or you would like to discuss your purchase, please get in touch with us. We are here to help.

For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our guide. You may also like to watch our info videos about Italian property law.

Self-Build Projects in Italy

Dreaming of building your own place in Italy?

In pursuit of their Italian dream home, some people decide on self-build projects in Italy.

If you are thinking of building a house in Italy, we would always advise you to seek independent legal advice before signing any paperwork to do with a land-purchase.

Even, if on paper, it looks as if the land you are contemplating buying has outline planning permission, actually getting a building project off the ground in Italy is extremely complex.

Italian self-build projects are complex. They need a team

Self-builders will need to navigate a maze of red tape. Zoning and planning laws, environmental restrictions, building permits and regulations – to list but a few.

Self-build projects in Italy really do require the help of a specialist team including an architect, surveyor, lawyer and a notary.

All-too-often, those who go it alone run in to trouble. This jeopardises or ends their self-build dream. Unfortunately, without a team, self-builders often don’t obtain all the relevant permits. This and spiralling costs, may mean that the project never gets off the ground.

Living on site during Italian self-build projects

When self-build projects in Italy do go ahead, living on-site whilst building the property is something many wish to do. Obviously there are advantages such as saving on travel time, being able to keep a close eye on progress and security.

We are often asked by self-builders if they can site a mobile home, RV, or caravan on their land without obtaining planning permission. Essentially this will depend on the designation of the land in question. Self-builders should ascertain this from local authority urban and rural plans (Piano Regolatore). Siting and installation of accommodation on land will also play a role.

Temporary accommodation

The Italian “Building Legislation and Regulation Consolidation Act” (Testo Unico dell’Edilizia) does not permit ground anchor systems for mobile homes, RVs and caravans without a construction permit. In other words, a ground anchoring system on mobile accommodation would legally classify the accommodation as a, “new building”.

However, according to the Decreto Casa, anchor systems are permissible where a temporary installation is within a proper outdoor accommodation setting, such as a camping site.

Anchoring must be temporary. It cannot be seasonal, which would imply a long, possibly permanent stay. The mobile accommodation would therefore contravene the requirements of temporariness. Also, connecting the mobile accommodation to utilities  (power, water, gas etc.) implies the intention of extended or permanent use.

A construction permit with regard to mobile homes, RVs and caravans, is not necessary if the mobile home is on wheels. It must have a roadworthiness  certificate and motor insurance. Installation of accommodation on a mobile support, such as a trailer, unsuitable for road transport is not permitted. The mobile accommodation must fulfil the requirements of temporariness. It must be immediately movable. This means it must be roadworthy so the owner can move it elsewhere. Anchoring is therefore prohibited. The mobile accommodation must also be autonomous in terms of utilities. This means it must have its own water, toilet and electricity.

Permanent accommodation

If the mobile home, RV or caravan is for permanent use, such as residential use during a self-build project, self-builders will require a construction permit.

Under Italian law:

“the siting and installation of accommodation during the building phase of a project does not constitute temporary status. If the accommodation has power, water and gas connections this implies long-term residence. In addition, the same principle applies to anchoring with removable devices to ensure the stability of the mobile home, RV or caravan”.

A construction permit is also necessary even if the structure is not for residential use. For example, if a self- builder uses the mobile home to store building materials or as a site-office during self-build projects. In fact, if there is evidence of regular and long-term use by the owner, the installation will be considered as permanent.

Finally …

Buying any type of property in Italy is a serious investment and often the fulfilment of a dream. Italy real estate, planning and construction laws are complex. We recommend you engage the right team of advisors in place to make your experience successful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border property law matters throughout Italy.

If you are contemplating a self-build project in Italy and you need any advice, guidance or support, please contact us. We are here to help.

Resident or Domiciled in Italy for tax purposes?

Are you resident or domiciled in Italy?

In this article, we compare being resident or domiciled in Italy and explore the tax implications.

According to Italian tax law, individual tax residency is pursuant to tests. An individual may find themselves tax resident although they only have relatively minor contacts with Italy. This might be property ownership, frequent visits to the country, or business interests in Italy.

If the Italian tax authorities determine that an individual is tax resident in Italy, the taxpayer is subject to worldwide taxation in Italy.

Tax would therefore be applicable for both income and estate tax purposes. It would include an obligation to report all assets wherever they are in the world. In addition to financial assets and accounts, it requires an individual to report all non-financial assets such as, cars, houses, planes, artworks.

Non-Italian nationals with interests in Italy should pay particular attention to these matters to avoid becoming an unintended Italian tax resident. Because this is a complex topic and, each case is different, we recommend that you seek advice and guidance from your lawyer and accountant.

Applicable tax laws determine whether an individual is resident or domiciled in Italy

Domicile

Domicile is generally determined by an individual’s intention to permanently or indefinitely reside in Italy. Often, an individual will physically have a presence in the country. Domicile is a legal concept. Its rules have been established by way of case law rather than a statutory definition. There are three types of domicile.

Domicile of Origin

This is usually acquired from an individual’s parents.

Elected Domicile

By actually residing in Italy, the individual demonstrates the intention of remaining permanently or indefinitely in Italy. In this way, an individual may acquire an elected domicile – also known as a domicile of choice. Where an individual later gives up elected domicile, domicile of origin is automatically re-acquired.

Domicile of Dependency

This is the domicile a minor holds. When the minor reaches 18 they then acquire elected domicile.

Residence

Domicile takes into account subjective elements of an individual’s intentions. The country where an individual habitually lives determines residence.

The EU test for habitual residence is based on an individual’s interests rather than by a particular duration of residence. In 2014, the European Commission published a practical guide on the Habitual Residence Test.

Fiscal implications

Under Italian tax law, three alternative tests determine an individual’s tax liability in Italy. The tests are registration, residence and domicile. If an individual meets one of the three tests for more than 183 calendar days per annum, this triggers an Italian tax liability.

Registration test

This is a straightforward test. If an individual has registered as a resident with their local municipal office – in the comune where the individual’s residential address is located, they are liable to pay tax in Italy.

Residence test

The residence test comprises two components.

The first component looks at whether physical presence in Italy is regular and continuous, as opposed to sporadic and occasional. If an individual spends time both in Italy and another country, periods of presence outside of Italy are compared with the periods of presence in Italy. This ascertains where presence is prevalent for tax purposes.

The second component of the residence test is more subjective. It is based on an individual’s intention to stay and live in Italy for the foreseeable future. A variety of aspects will determine an individual’s intention to live in Italy on a regular basis. In order to determine intentions, authorities will look at an individual’s conduct, social and personal habits. Authorities will also consider working relationships, family relationships, business and personal activities.

Italian tax liabilities arise if an individual’s physical presence in Italy is prevalent compared to an individual’s presence outside of Italy. For example, a regular and continuous presence in Italy is deemed to exist even if an individual travels abroad on a frequent basis. In other words, if an individual is away from Italy for extended periods of time but then returns as soon as possible. This would denote that an individual maintains Italy as the principal centre of their social and family relations.

Domicile Test

This third test aims to define the place where an individual has their principal centre of interests for business and or social reasons. In this context, ‘interests’ include personal, social, moral, familiar, economic, professional and business interests and relationships.

The domicile test revolves around an individual’s intention to establish and maintain their main centre of relations and interests in Italy.

There are tax implications based on the nature, extent and quality of the connections between an individual and Italy, compared with an individual’s connections with any other country.  As a result, an individual who primarily lives abroad but, maintains their principal centre of interests in Italy satisfies the domicile test.

The domicile test therefore requires careful and comparative evaluation to balance all the facts related to business or personal relationships and connections with Italy.

Case Law regarding the legal concept of domicile

In 2011, the Italian Supreme Court referred to a 1991 decision of the European Court of Justice relating to a non-tax matter. The Italian Supreme Court concluded that, in the case of multiple relations and ties with different countries, where the location of the principal centre of an individual’s interest cannot easily be determined, a prevalent consideration should be given to the relations of a personal nature.

However, more recent decisions suggest that extensive economic interest may outweigh personal connections in establishing an individual’s domicile. Thus, an individual may still be liable to pay tax in Italy.

In a ruling in April 2012, the Italian Supreme Court held that a tennis player living in Monaco qualified for tax residency in Italy. This, despite the family proving that they lived in Monaco. They provided proof through children’s school attendance records, household utility bills, membership of local clubs. The ruling took into consideration the fact that the tennis player maintained significant interests and management positions at several family-owned Italian companies. The individual mainly managed these matters from Italy.

In this case, residence identified the taxpayer’s habitual and regular place of living, while domicile identified the taxpayer’s main center of personal, financial and business interests.

Resident or domiciled. Tax guidance

The Italian tax authorities have issued specific guidance on determining whether individuals are resident or domiciled in Italy. Circular n. 304/E of December 2, 1997. Circular 304 provides instructions for the tax agency’s control and audit activities, which should include the collection and review of the following.

– All information contained in the tax agency data base system.

– Copies of all public documents relating to purchases. This includes real estate, gifts, formation of companies and entities, capital contributions to companies and entities.

– All information on transfers of money from or to foreign countries.

– Information regarding the taxpayer’s family relations in Italy.

– The taxpayer’s economic interests in Italy.

– Information about taxpayer’s intention to remain and live permanently in Italy.

Finally

De Tullio Law Firm specialises in Italian and international property law. We have over 55 years of helping overseas nationals obtain Italian residence. If you need help or would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch with us.

 

You may like to read How to get a mortgage in Italy

Accepting Or Renouncing Italian Inheritance

Inheriting an Italian estate

Under Italian inheritance law, beneficiaries not only inherit a share of the deceased’s estate, they are also liable for any debts. If debts exceed the value of assets, heirs may choose to waive their inheritance. In this article, we discuss renouncing or accepting Italian inheritance.

How does accepting an Italian inheritance work?

The beneficiary can accept to be an heir expressly or tacitly. In either case, the beneficiary must accept within 10 years from the opening of the succession process. 

When the beneficiary declares to accept the status of heir they need a notarial or a private deed. 

When someone acts in such a way that the acceptance can be implied or inferred it is referred to as Tacit acceptance

The acceptance can also be reserved. This way, the successor reserves the right to accept or renounce an Italian inheritance until such times as they are able to ascertain whether debts or liabilities on the assets exceed the value of the property the beneficiary is inheriting. In this way, the heir is able to discharge themselves from paying any outstanding debts by renouncing an inheritance in favour of creditors and legatees.

Usually, an heir renounces an inheritance if the decedent’s debts exceed the value of the assets. The heir must pay the decedent’s debts up to the value of the property they inherit.

Renouncing an Italian inheritance

For the beneficiary to renounce an Italian inheritance they must make a  statement in front of a Notary Public or at the chancery of the court where they opened the succession procedure (“volontaria giurisdizione” section). The Notary Public or the court clerk then record a renouncement.  The beneficiary must renounce within 10 years of the opening of an Italian succession procedure.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have published a Guide to Italian Inheritance, which we hope you will find useful. 

If you are a beneficiary to an Italian inheritance, it is always advisable to consult a competent independent professional. A lawyer can provide information about debts and charges on inherited assets. A lawyer will also provide advice regarding renouncing or accepting Italian inheritance. This way you can make an informed decision about how to proceed. 

Each case is different so, if you would like to contact us for a free consultation about your Italian inheritance matter, please get in touch.

Parental Rights in Italy – Italian Family Law

In Italy, children have the right to a personal relationship with both parents

It is important to understand parental rights in Italy for those living or moving to the country. That way, if you have children, you can be in the best position to make decisions for the future.

All EU countries recognise that children have the right to a personal relationship and direct contact with both parents. This also applies if the parents live in different countries.

What about parental rights in Italy in the event of divorce or separation?

It is important to determine whether the children will live exclusively with one parent or alternate between parents.

If both parents live in Italy but are unable to reach an agreement, you may have to take the matter to court. A judge will then decide on living arrangements and parental rights. The court’s decision will consider the child’s best interests and determine your custody rights. It will also decide where the child resides.

In situations involving more than one country where, for example the parents live in different countries, the courts responsible for handling cases of parental rights are those in the country where the child is habitually resident. You can agree with your spouse that the court ruling on your divorce should also rule on parental rights.

Where the child has more than one nationality, the law of the country with which the child has the closest connection applies. Under section 19 of of Act No 1995/218, if the child has more than one nationality and one of these nationalities is Italian, the Italian nationality takes precedence. It is the nationality of the child at the point the case goes to court that decides this.

Parental rights in Italy: 3 types of child custody

1. Exclusive custody – one parent has sole custody and makes all day-to-day parenting decisions. The other parent has limited responsibilities.

2. Joint custody – gives both parents equal parental responsibilities and custody. However, in the interests of the child or children, they are likely to live predominately with one parent. In theory, this approach is the best for a child as they have access to both parents.

3. Alternating custody – means both parents can exercise their parental responsibilities within predetermined custodial time periods given. (This form of custody is rare).

Cases where the judge grants exclusive custody to one of the parents have become rare in Italy. Sole custody would require proof that it would be in the best interests of the child.  However, even in cases of sole custody, both parents will need to consult on major decisions relating to the child. Moreover, in cases where joint custody is applicable to disputing parents, visiting arrangements and a timetable will be established. Similar to exclusive custody cases, these arrangements give the parent that does not reside with the child or children limited access rights.

Marriage and registered civil partnerships

in order to determine parental rights in Italy, married or registered couples, will have been legally separated for six months and must have filed for divorce. They will need to go to court regarding both their divorce settlement and arrangements for their child or children. Following divorce, the child will live according to care arrangements determined by the court.

Unmarried couples and partners

In the case of unmarried couples, or estranged married couples, there is no requirement to go to court. Parents can simply agree between themselves on parental responsibilities and living arrangements. However, we strongly recommend seeking legal advice to formalise and record arrangements. Within the EU, a married father has the same rights as the mother. Where a couple cannot agree arrangements between themselves, the court in the child’s country of habitual residence determines parental rights and responsibilities.

In theory, both parents have equal parental rights and responsibilities for their child or children. In practice, however, where there is no legitimate reason otherwise, the mother’s home is more likely to be the main residence of the child.

Same-sex couples

On the subject of same-sex couples, a 2013 Italian Supreme Court decision (601) granted sole custody of a child from an earlier marriage to a mother living with another woman. The court declared that, “there is no scientific certainty proving that a minor cannot grow up in a balanced way within a same sex couple”. 

Parental rights in Italy in adoption cases

The Italian law has always stipulated that a couple must be married in order to adopt a child. Italian law 184/1983 governs adoption and foster care. The law, in principle, only permits married couples, who must be of the opposite sex, to adopt. According to the law, there are no restrictions on foster care. In a limited number of situations, the law provides for adoption in certain cases by a single person. In addition, some courts have interpreted this to include the possibility of unmarried couples adopting a stepchild.

From an inheritance point of view, no distinction is made between legitimate, natural and adopted children – all have equal rights.

Finally …

If you would like to discuss your personal situation, you can reach us here for a free consultation.

 

You may also be interested in Italian divorce law and EU regulations.

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