What is Adverse possession (usucapione)?
Usucapione is similar to Adverse Possession. It is a legal situation which is connected with possession of a property. The possession of a property doesn’t happen by force or hostility.
Usucapione is a legal procedure which can give you ownership of a property in Italy without any specific title such as a deed of purchase or a will and without any agreement from the owner of the property.
How does usucapione work?
The possession of whole or part of a property and or land must take place with public knowledge. Legally, after 10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances, the possessor can obtain the legal title and become the legal owner of the property.
You can become the owner of a property belonging to someone else if you take possession of it and behave as if you own the property. At the same time, the real owner should have behaved as if they have no interest in the property. This could include implicitly allowing another party to use the property. Typically this might be because the owner has moved abroad and neglected or not looked after the property.
Usucapione has the legal purpose of giving certainty to legal relationships. It privileges someone who, although they are not actually the owner, takes care of the property. The owner is therefore deemed as not looking after it and neglecting it completely.
It takes 20 years for a possessor to acquire Italian real estate assets in bad faith. This starts from the moment of possession. It takes 10 years to obtain possession of an Italian property in good faith. This period of time must be continuous with no interruption.
To convert the factual condition of possession into ownership, the possessor requires a court injunction declaring that usucapione has occurred. Parties may offer evidence in any way they like however, typically witnesses provide evidence of peaceful, uninterrupted possession over time.
If you own property in Italy, which you have neglected for some time, it is advisable to consult a specialist Italian property attorney to prevent any risks connected with usucapione or, if you would like to discuss a case, please contact us for a free consultation.
You may like to read more about Usucapione.