Buying a house is an important investment and therefore it is necessary that the buyer receive all the documentation that can prove that the property is in fact sellable. Let us look briefly at what are the main documents according to Italian law that must always be correlated to a real estate sale:
Title Deed or Provenance
A property may be had by inheritance following a death, by legal decree, by notarial deed (sale, gift, division….). The seller must produce the title that proves ownership. The information given in the title of provenance could have changed in the meantime: the notary hired for the stipulating of the deed of sale will check on the actual ownership of the seller and the absence of any detrimental formalities.
It is absolutely necessary to pay very close attention also to the town-planning documents. This is a very important aspect that can prejudice the free sale of the property. If construction of the building was begun after 1 September 1967, the essential data of all the municipal authorizations must be mentioned in the deed of sale (building permits and licenses, concessions to build, variances, report of start of activities) as well as the essential data on any applications for amnesty (condono) and building permits in indemnity (concessioni edilizie in sanatoria). In any event the burden of proving that the property complies with town planning regulations lies with the seller. Lastly, do not forget to ask to see the “Certificato di Agibilità” or Certificate of Habitability (formerly called the “Certificato di Abitabilità”) or the self-certification document of the period for the establishment of silent consent registered by the Comune (municipality). If the property in question includes one or more plots of land with an area of over 5,000 square meters, the zoning certificate (certificato di destinazione urbanistica), which can be requested at the competent municipal office, must be attached to the deed of sale.
Cadastral documents are equally important. Every real estate unit must be registered in Estero the Catasto, or Land Register (today called the Agenzia del Territorio). It is an enormous paper and computerized archive in which all the buildings built in the country are fi led and preserved for tax purposes. Every provincial capital has its own District Office. The main document that is needed is the so-called cadastral sheet, which is simply a small scale reproduction of the plan of the property drawn up by a qualified expert and presented to the cadastral offices, which may be checked by means of a “title search” (visura) in which the data regarding the real estate unit (category, class, size, income) are given. If the cadastral plan differs from the actual situation, it must be rectified by submitting a report of variation.
Before buying an apartment in a jointly-owned building, the following should be checked with the condominium administrator:
- if there are any outstanding condominium expenses (the buyer is jointly obligated with the seller for payments of the current year and the preceding year);
- what the annual routine maintenance expenses come to;
- if the meeting of co-owners has planned or decided on any maintenance or repair works, and if so, what they are (e.g.: reconstruction of the roof, exterior walls, entry, hallway, stairs, or other) and if they are included in the extraordinary maintenance and repair expenses; if there are, it is advisable to establish who will have to pay these expenses;
– if there are limits for the joint-ownership rules, such as the changing of the zoning of a real estate unit (e.g. from a dwelling to an office).
Certification of Systems and Installations
The declaration of conformity is a document or rather a set of documents by which the person who installs a system or installation (electric, heating, plumbing, radio/television, etc.) declares and certifies that it has been done in a workmanlike manner. The declaration of conformity contains the data on the system or installation and on the following persons: technician in charge, owner, customer. It also provides information on the installation procedure, on the type of materials used, on the laws and regulations followed, and on the location of the system or installation. In accordance with current laws, the declaration of conformity is drawn up on a Ministry of Labor-approved form and is completed by a series of attachments, some of which are mandatory (without which the statement is considered void):
- the plan (if the building exceeds certain size limits);
- a diagram of the system/installation (if there is no plan);
- the type report (or list of materials);
- the certificate of registration in the Chamber of Commerce.
Following the repeal of Art. 13 of D.M. 37/2008, as of 25 June 2008 it is no longer mandatory to attach documentation of conformity nor is the contractual regulation of the seller’s guarantee regarding the conformity of the systems and installation mandatory; however, it is definitely still advisable to obtain this regulation. If the systems/installations of an old building are not up to code, or do not exist, the seller and the buyer may, by mutual consent, proceed with the sale of the building in the state in which it is in.
To avoid disputes later on, it is a good idea during negotiations to establish who will be responsible for bringing the systems and installations up to code.
The energy certification is simply a certificate regarding how the building was built from the perspective of insulation, and therefore in what way the building can help to save energy. It consists of an evaluation of the integrated energy requirements of a building and the resultant certification and attributing of a certain energy class. Today, electrical appliances are grouped into classes according to their power consumption: Estero A, B, etc. The same will be done with all buildings, which, on the basis of their energy consumption, will be placed in a given consumption class. It is in the interest of the buyer of a building to know how much energy a given building consumes. A building constructed without any measures or provisions for saving energy not only produces more pollution, it is also more costly for the person who lives in it. Art. 35, par. 2b of D.L. 25 June 2008 no. 112, as annexed to the conversion law 6 August 2008, no. 133, in force since 22 August 2008, changed the previous national regulation; in general, it is no longer necessary to attach the energy certificate to the real estate transfer deeds; the obligation to provide the buyer with the certificate of energy qualification remains for the following buildings:
- new buildings, the building permit or report of start of activities which were submitted after 8 October 2005;
- buildings in which there has been the complete renovation of the building elements constituting the shell or the complete demolition and reconstruction, with the requesting of a building permit or report of start of activities, submitted after 8 October 2005;
- buildings that are “in fact” provided with the statement of energy certification or qualification in order to make use of tax benefits;
- public buildings or buildings for public use;
- buildings have a useable surface area (net floor space) greater than 1,000 square meters, when the deed of transfer for a consideration regards the entire building (also when it regards the transfer of single real estate units, when they, by themselves, have a useable surface area greater than 1,000 square meters);
- buildings, both old and newly built, of any useable surface area, including those less than 1,000 square meters, when the deed of transfer for a consideration regards the entire building (with the exclusion, therefore, of transferring deeds for individual real estate units that are part of the complex).
As of 1 July 2009, the obligation of providing and delivering the energy qualification certificate regards all real estate units (therefore also apartments in condominium buildings), whether old or new. For Lombardy, it seems to be a different matter, as the national law did not abrogate the regional laws: subject to the national law as concerns the obligations of providing and delivering the certificate to the buyer, there remains the obligation of attaching the energy certification to the real estate deed of transfer for a consideration in those cases in which it is provided for by regional laws. These cases are:
- in the case of title for construction requested starting from 1/09/07;
- for demolition and construction works for extraordinary repairs and maintenance work or renovation, building renovation that involves more than 25% of the dispersing surface of the building; volumetric additions, if the controlled temperature volume of the new portion is greater than 20% of the existing volume; all of these if the building title was requested starting from 1/09/07;
- for taking advantage of tax benefits and incentives;
- for public buildings or buildings for public use, which have a useable surface area greater than 1,000 square meters;
- when there is the transfer of the entire building, even if built previously;
- if there is a service-energy contract stipulated or renewed after 1 January 2008.