New legislation has come into force in Italy at the end of March 2011, which applies to any sale / acquisition or even letting of properties, in compliance with a number of EU Directives.

This new legislation effectively requires the buyer / tenant of an Italian property to formally declare in the deed of purchase / contract that s/he has already received from the vendor / landlord an energy performance certificate (Certificato energetico). In the writer` s experience it is never easy to get this certificate, on an Italian property sale.

The rules relating to Italian energy performance certificate are complex and until very recently were not fully enforced (read earlier article) . Thus, it was possible for the parties to a property sale to agree and formally state in the Deed of Sale (Atto di Compravendita) that an Italian energy performance certificate would be delivered later … or even that the certificate would be organized by the buyer, at a later stage. According to the national press, another loophole is still available, this is very much in doubt considering the wording of the recent legislation.

Current rules are complex also because this is an area where State legislation entwines with local / district legislation. A number of Italian district authorities (Regioni) have issued specific local legislation on energy performance certificates, which will continue to be applicable, and in some cases will mix with the legislation that has recently come into force.

Where the relevant “Regione” has not issued any specific legislation, then only State legislation will apply. The assistance of local professionals / surveyors is now more important than before in deciphering the complex legislative pattern applicable to each individual sale, and plotting a safe course to the completion of the sale of an Italian property. There will also be an additional item of costs for the Certificato energetico which the vendor will no doubt try and pass to the buyer.

As a consequence of all this, different rules now apply to the sale of a property inLombardia which is the Milan Regione, as opposed for Lazio which is the main district authority for the area surrounding Rome. This will involve additional research and legal costs, which could be significant. In addition and from January 2012 any Italian property advertisement is required by law to state the information provided by the relevant Certificato Energetico.

Finally and because a specific statement is formally required to be made by the buyer in the Deed of Sale (Atto di Compravendita) by this new legislation, confirming that s/he has already received the Italian energy performance, any false / incorrect statement is potentially a criminal offence which under the Italian law is punished with up to two years imprisonment.

Meanwhile under other, recent Italian legislation (in force since the 26th February 2011) the deadline to regularize buildings which have not been registered at all or do not appear correctly in the maps at the Italian local land registry, the so called “ghost houses” (Edifici fantasma) has been further postponed to the 30th April 2011 (Read earlier article).

After that date, any irregular building will be compulsorily registered / re-registered by the authorities and substantial professional fees and fines will become applicable.

Pending definition of all these issues, because the land registry maps do not define correctly these buildings, the relevant properties will not be legally marketable in Italy. This will mean that a number of Italian properties can not be legally sold / bought, until their land registry representation has been regularized and all outstanding fines and fees are paid.

In an Italian property sale it is now more important than ever, to apply all the relevant legislation correctly.

Caveat emptor ! (In Latin: Buyers beware !).

Dr Claudio Del Giudice
Copyrights reserved – 05.04.2011