Italy, renowned for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has always been a sought-after destination for property investment. Whether you’re considering buying, selling, renovating, or inheriting property in the country, understanding the importance of triple compliance between the actual state of the property, the Cadastre, and building permit and urban planning regulations is paramount. In this blog post, we will delve into why triple compliance is crucial, explore the causes of deviations, and understand when minor deviations may be acceptable.
The Significance of Triple Compliance
In the realm of Italian real estate, the triple compliance requirement is the linchpin for property transactions. It demands perfect alignment between three fundamental elements:
- The Actual State of the Property
- Cadastral Records from Agenzia delle Entrate
- Building Permit and Urban Planning from Municipal Technical Office (Ufficio Tecnico Comunale)
This mandate is enshrined in Law No. 122 of 30/07/2010, which officialized Decree Law No. 78 of 31/05/2010. It sets the rules for property transactions in Italy and stipulates that non-compliance can render property transactions null and void, leading to a cascade of legal and financial consequences.
Triple compliance in property transactions is the singular most important element in Italian property transactions. Deviations from this requirement can jeopardize the validity of property transactions, making it challenging, time-consuming, and costly to rectify such discrepancies. Beyond legal implications, triple compliance is pivotal for ensuring the future marketability of properties, affecting buyers, sellers, mortgage applicants, renovators, and those involved in inheritance and asset division. Failing to meet this compliance standard can leave property transactions in a precarious position, making it essential for all parties to prioritize adherence to this crucial requirement.
What is Cadastral Compliance (Conformità Catastale)
The Italian Cadastre, or “Catasto,” is the national registry of all real estate properties and is managed by the Agenzia delle Entrate, the Italian State Revenue Agency. It plays a central role in property transactions and is comprises two primary archives: the urban buildings register and the lands register.
Cadastral compliance, also known as “conformità catastale,” focuses on the correspondence between a property’s actual condition and its registration in the Italian Cadastre. It is a critical facet of property transactions. However, it does not directly relate to zoning compliance, and the Italian Cadastre, does not hold evidential weight within the Italian legal system. This means that certain records and data can be modified through the issuance of a sworn document by a qualified professional.
In most cases, the mere presence of a cadastral plan (planimetry) or equivalent documentation does not constitute reliable evidence of building compliance. However, there are specific situations where these documents can indirectly relate to urban planning:
- Amnesty Procedures: In some municipalities, cadastral plans are linked to regularization procedures, making them quasi-urban planning documents, albeit lacking critical technical details for a comprehensive evaluation.
- Legitimately Built Properties without Permits: For buildings legally constructed without a building permit before 1967 in areas outside urban centers, or in areas with no previous building regulations requiring permits, examining cadastral documentation can provide insights into the property’s original characteristics.
How to Verify Cadestral Compliance
To verify cadastral compliance, you should consult the Italian Cadastre (Catasto) for the relevant property’s records. Ensure that the cadastral data aligns with the property’s actual state and conforms to the legal requirements. It’s essential to understand that the Cadastre primarily serves fiscal purposes, and its records do not replace the need for a valid and retrievable building permit, which is indispensable for assessing building compliance in Italy.
What is Urban Planning Compliance (Conformità urbanistica ed edilizia)
Every property in Italy must be authorized through a process by the municipal administration called “titolo abilitativo” to be constructed. The relevant legislation is the TUE (Testo Unico dell’Edilizia DPR 380/01).
The alignment between the project filed with the municipality by a qualified technician and the actual state of the property demonstrates urban planning compliance, also known as building compliance.
The types of permits through which a building can be authorized have changed over the years:
- Building Permit: since 1942 with Law 1150
- Onerous Building Concession: since 1977 with Law 10
- Construction Permit: since 2003 with TUE DPR 380/01
Building amnesties, known as “condoni edilizi,” help regularize a property from an urban planning perspective when the municipality issues a Concession in Sanatoria. There have been three amnesties: in 1985, 1994, and 2003. For properties built before 1942, the cadastral plan of 1939-1940 is considered the basis for urban planning legitimacy.
How to Verify Urban Planning Compliance
To determine whether a property (apartment, villa, shop, or any other structure) complies with urban planning regulations, one must compare the actual state with the project filed in municipal archives.
The building may have been altered or constructed differently from the project presented to the municipality. In such cases, urban planning compliance cannot be granted, which are necessary in the following situations:
- Property Transactions: It is advisable to verify compliance before making an offer to purchase because if the property has defects, it can be sold, and the buyer becomes responsible for them.
- Renovation Projects: Compliance is important for any construction or renovation work.
- Mortgage Applications: Compliance may be required when applying for a mortgage.
Urban Planning Compliance Exemption
For properties built before September 1, 1967, exemptions may apply to omitting the property’s zoning history from the deed. However, post this date, all renovation work must be included.
Remedy for Non-Compliant Properties
Remedial action is an option when facing certain property compliance issues. For instance, if you’ve made alterations to your property or performed renovations without adhering to the required administrative procedures, you can seek legal solutions. If you’ve inherited a property that comes with zoning and cadastral discrepancies, remedies are available.
For substantial violations of building permits, you may need a “Permesso di Costruire in sanatoria.” This process can grant amnesty and regularize the property. However, this remedy doesn’t apply to properties located in heritage zones or areas where property development is prohibited.
Obtaining a “Permesso di Costruire in sanatoria” is a complex and costly process. It entails paying standard municipal fees for a new construction project permit, along with penalty payments that could amount to twice the permit fee, as determined by the Italian Regions following the Consolidated Law on Construction.
In cases of partial violations, a “CILA” (Comunicazione Inizio Lavori Asseverata), a notice of certified work commencement, provides a retroactive remedy. It should be submitted to the municipality before starting non-structural work on a property, such as changes to the internal layout. If you submit a “CILA” after work has begun or is completed, it’s considered a “CILA in sanatoria” and may incur fines, €1,000 if the work is already finished or a penalty of €333.33 euros if the work is still in progress.
Minor Non-Compliance is Acceptable
Minor non-compliance is prevalent when you are looking to purchase a property in Puglia, and it’s generally accepted, provided it has been reviewed and approved by a geometra, a qualified technician specializing in construction and land surveying. Such minor deviations typically involve changes like adding a balcony, veranda, or window that could be easily removed or an additional drywall partition that could be knocked down without significant structural impact.
These types of deviations are often considered tolerable because they don’t fundamentally alter the property’s overall structure, and they are reversible without causing major disruptions. Geometras play a crucial role in assessing these modifications and ensuring that they don’t pose a substantial breach of compliance. Their approval provides a level of assurance that the property remains within acceptable bounds.
The acceptance of minor non-compliance can expedite renovation projects and property transactions, making it easier for property owners to enhance or customize their spaces while avoiding excessive bureaucratic hurdles. However, it’s important to emphasize that not all deviations can be considered minor or insignificant, and the expertise of a geometra is essential in making these determinations. Ultimately, their role helps strike a balance between adhering to regulations and permitting reasonable flexibility for property owners.
Triple compliance between the actual state of a property, the Cadastre, and building permit and urban planning regulations is the linchpin of property transactions in Italy. It guarantees legality, marketability, and peace of mind. Deviations from this standard can lead to legal and financial consequences, making expert legal advice essential. Understanding the causes of deviation and when minor deviations are acceptable is crucial for anyone looking to purchase their dream home in Italy.