ITALIAN ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES: JUST ANOTHER HURDLE OR AN OPPORTUNITY ?

If you sell a house or a flat in Italy, you are required to produce an energy performance certificate (“Attestato di Certificazione Energetica ” – ACE for short) effective from 1st July 2009, when some legislation issued in 2005 eventually came into force.

This legislation which implements an EU Directive, was long overdue and had a difficult life even before coming fully into force.

For a short time, it provided that no sale of an Italian house / flat could take place without an “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica” being made available to the buyer. However because of the practical difficulties caused, this requirement was soon abrogated. The legislation was to be implemented in stages.

Eventually, since the 1st July 2009 all vendors of Italian houses or flats, or even other buildings with minor exceptions are required to deliver an “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica” to the buyer. Penalties for default have now gone save for the case of developers selling new homes / flats.

Under Italian law and practice, there are now at least three ways of dealing with this requirement.

a) The simplest option is of course for the vendor of the house / flat to appoint an expert and organize the required certificate. This is what the legislation requires, however it may be difficult to find an expert. Such certificate can be expensive (ranging between Euro 400 and Euro 700, according to the press).

b) Alternatively, as suggested by the Italian Notarial Association (Consiglio Nazionale del Notariato – Italian notaries are the only lawyers who may deal with the transfer of title to an Italian property) the vendor and buyer of Italian properties may negotiate. Because there is no longer an immediate requirement that the “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica” should be produced on the completion of the sale, the parties to the transaction may negotiate the certificate. Basically, the buyer may agree to produce this certificate at his own expenses, on a later date, against a suitable discount on the price paid. The absence of the “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica” no longer holds up sales of Italian properties, provided the parties can reach such an agreement.

c) Finally there is a third option available for smaller flats and buildings (less than sq.m. 1,000) in a rather dilapidated condition. In this case, some implementing legislation provides that the vendor can avoid the inconvenience of producing an “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica“, by producing a formal statement (“Autodichiarazione“).

This statement, duly dated and signed, simply certifies that the building is in such a poor state, and the heating and other energy costs are so high, that the building ranks lowest from an energy performance point of view (class G).

All this can become rather confusing when technical data and other detailed requirements are considered. The above is only a great simplification of a rather more complex situation.

Italian energy performance certificates, started their existence as “Attestati di Qualificazione Energetica” – for short AQE), there have been changes in the legislation. The different names are not simply a matter of linguistic, as there are legal implications. “AQE” will cease to exist from 26.06.2010, only to be replaced by “ACE“.

This, so far, is the national legislation. Next to it a similarly complex local legislation has developed. Under the Italian Constitution, this is a matter on which the Central Government and the local Regional Authorities have concurrent legislative powers.

There are 20 Regional Authorities (“Regioni“) in Italy, and a number of them have issued their own rules on this matter (Lombardia, Liguria, Piemonte and the autonomous district (Provincia autonoma) of Bolzano). Detailed knowledge and interpretation skills may be required in this balancing exercise. In practice this matter is better left to the Italian Notary who will officiate the sale, and hopefully has the required professional skills and local knowledge.

However the “Attestato di Certificazione Energetica” is not just another hurdle in selling a house or a flat in Italy. It may strengthen the vendor’s hand in the sale negotiations and, when the building is compliant and efficient, show its true value, compared with other properties in the area. It could actually become an opportunity to ask a higher price…

Claudio Del Giudice

Copyright reserved 01.10.09