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‘Limitation of actions’
Usucapion (usucapione) is a legal procedure which can give you ownership of a property in Italy without need of any specific title such as a deed of purchase or a Will and without any agreement with the owner of the property. Usucapione pictures one legal situation which is connected with possession of a property which must be without violence. This possession must take place, with public knowledge. After a number of years which can be 10 or 20 depending on the circumstances, you can obtain the legal title and become the legal owner of this property; this happens even if you aware the owner of the property is someone else.
You become owner of a property belonging to someone else if you possess the asset i.e. you make use of it somehow for a period of time and if you behave, during this time, as if you were the owner of this property.
On the other hand, the true owner should have behaved by not showing any interest in this property, letting the property be implicitly used by another party; typically someone moving abroad, not taking care of this property and neglecting it.
What is the purpose of this? Usucapion has the legal purpose of giving certainty to legal relationships giving a privilege to someone not being the owner, who nevertheless takes care of it. In relation to the owner not taking care of it and neglecting it completely.
20 years for real estate assets, acquired in bad faith. This starts from the moment of possession. While this becomes 10 years if you obtain possession in good faith. This period of time must be continuous with no interruptions, in order to convert this factual condition (possession) into ownership it is necessary to obtain a court decision to declare that usucapione occurred. It is a ‘factual’ condition and must be recognized in court. You can give evidence in any way but this typically takes place through witnesses. The peaceful possession taking place throughout time without interruptions can give title of ownership of a property. However it is necessary to obtain a court decision declaring usucapione is taking place.
Therefore if you own property in Italy which you have neglected for sometime it is advisable to consult an attorney to prevent the risks connected with usucapione.
Please note, any statement made in this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not formal legal advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.
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