Italian Property Buying Process

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buying process

At What Stage of the Buying Process Should You Contact a Property Lawyer in Italy?

People planning to buy an Italian property frequently ask me at what point of the buying process they should involve a lawyer.

On the one hand, people worry that if they contact a lawyer too soon, they will end up wasting their time or incur unnecessary additional costs when they might not actually proceed with a property purchase immediately. Read more

Buying properties in Italy is a major decision

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buying properties

Buying properties in Italy is a major decision. Proceed with caution. Do your research. Always get independent advice.

Continued slow economic growth in Italy is helping to keep property prices low and therefore attractive for those looking to invest. Interest rates show no sign of substantially increasing in 2016 either in The UK or in the Eurozone. 2016 is therefore looking to be another year when many Britons will purchase an Italian property.

Each year, I am engaged by clients whose Italian property purchase started out as an impulse decision, driven more by emotional than rational considerations. Unfortunately, at some point during the purchase, the dream has turned in to a nightmare. All sorts of additional costs are incurred; costs which could have been completely avoided if legal advice had been sought prior to purchase. Read more

2019 Stability Law – Flat-Rate Tax Scheme

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Italian and EU International Divorces

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Italian and EU Divorce Law

Across much of the European Union, marriages between couples of different nationalities, are on the rise. In addition, the number of married couples living as expats in another EU country is increasing. Unfortunately, this means that international separations and divorces are becoming more common.

Obviously, people don’t enter into married life thinking about where the best location for a divorce would be; married couples are unlikely to be interested in thinking about this while they remain happy together, and couples may not be able to agree on the appropriate jurisdiction if they are about to be or are already separated. However, where couples choose to divorce can have a major impact on both parties’ financial health, so getting it right is crucial. Read more

Usucapion

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Usucapion

‘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.Usucapion

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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Translating Legal Documents from English to Italian

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Translating Legal Documents from English to Italian

Legal translations in Italian real estate transactions

All binding legal documents relating to an Italian real estate transaction must be written in Italian, independent of the nationality of the parties. Italian legal writing is highly technical, ritualistic and often archaic due to close links with Roman Law. Ultimately it can appear to be obscure for people lacking a solid legal background in Italian law. On top of that, the profound differences between legal systems, more specifically between the English/American system based on Common Law and the Italian one based on Civil Law adds to the confusion.

As a matter of fact there are juridical concepts in Roman Law that simply do not exist in Common Law and vice versa. There are concepts bearing the same name in the two systems but with different meanings. As a consequence, an accurate understanding of the legal systems and the legal processes involved is essential for translators or interpreters involved in such important transactions. In reality a deep knowledge of the specialist  terminology is required as well as knowledge of the legal concepts implied. This is why a legal document should never be signed without the assistance of a bilingual qualified lawyer who can explain in English the full scope of your commitment.

Many real estate agents use printed contracts with an English translation, yet such translations are rarely faithful and can often mislead the buyer. It’s important to underline that in the case of litigation the Italian version will always prevail.

In the most crucial phase of the transaction, when signing the Deed of Sale in front of the public notary, the Italian law requires the presence of an interpreter if the buyer is not fluent in Italian. Our advice is to make sure that such an interpreter is duly qualified not only under a strictly linguistic point of view, but also in terms of legal background.

Another crucial aspect to bear in mind is the independence of the interpreter. This would exclude a bilingual real estate agent, an English speaking relative or friend of the seller or an Italian English teacher.

Explaining to you the Deed or Sale that you are about to sign is a very delicate task and you want to make sure you are putting your trust in the right professional. Please remember that the Italian version of the Deed will prevail so it is essential that there is an expert and independent explanation of the legal implications that are involved.

Your independent legal adviser has the right qualifications to assist you throughout the real estate transaction and will always make sure you have a full understanding of the documents you are requested to sign and the legal consequences implied.

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.

Contact us today. We can help.

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What is a certificate of occupancy?

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Certificate of occupancy in transactions of properties in Italy

The Certificate of Occupancy (also called Certificate of Habitability) certifies the suitability of a residential property as being fit for human habitation.

It is issued by the competent municipal offices following verification that the building and its systems comply with health, safety and structural stability regulations. According to law, prior to issuing the certificate of occupancy, the competent authorities should also verify that the building complies with planning permission.

The case law of the Supreme Court is unanimous in stating that in real estate transactions the certificate of habitability is one of the documents that the vendor must deliver to the buyer before completion. As a matter of fact the buyer has the full right to verify that the property is suitable to satisfy his legitimate interest, that is the usability and marketability of the property. The above mentioned certificate can be considered an essential requirement of the building because it has direct effects on the legal use of the property as stipulated in the contract.

Unless otherwise stipulated in contractual agreements, the responsibility to provide the certificate of habitability belongs to the vendor. In case of delay or failure to deliver a certificate of habitability, there is a clear case of non execution of a contractual obligation (breach of contract). A recent decision by the Supreme Court states that, “The vendor of a property intended for residential use has a duty to deliver to the buyer the certificate of habitability without which the property is unmarketable”. (Cass. 23 of January 2009, n. 1701).

In case of absence of certificate of habitability the property can nevertheless be transferred with a notarial deed of sale but only with the buyer’s express, written consent. Verifying the existence of the certificate of habitability before completion of the purchase of a property should certainly be part of the legal due diligence.

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.

Contact us today. We can help.

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Italian real estate attorneys and Italian inheritance attorneys

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