The legal conveyancing in Italy
The importance of appointing a lawyer and the function of Italian public notaries in property transactions.
Conveyancing is a legal process which includes a wide range of legal and administrative work involved in the transfer of the ownership of a property from the vendor to the buyer.
The conveyancing process is intended to offer a transparent legal platform to safeguard the interest of all parties involved in the property transaction.
In this regard, the Italian jurisdiction has adopted a system of land registration to facilitate the legal conveyancing, whilst encouraging reliance on public records and assuring land purchasers that they are taking good title.
The Italian conveyancing is strictly governed by Italian law and can be carried out only by a public notary (Notaio). Notaries in Italy are legal professionals who act as public officers. When instructed to assist in legal conveyancing procedures, they verify the identities of the parties, check the title deeds and the existence of any encumbrances. In real estate legal conveyancing, the role of the notary is to oversee and consult on all aspects of a property transaction, from verifying the title of the seller, to tax-related issues. Notaries in Italy (and not lawyers “Avvocati”) are solely responsible of the legal work involved in real estate conveyancing procedures. On completion the notary makes the property transaction official by filing the property title with the new owner at the Local Land Registry.
It is however important to remember that a notary represents the Italian government and neither the seller or the buyer. Notaries are appointed by the Italian Ministry of Justice to act on behalf of the Italian State and must remain strictly impartial by serving as a neutral party. This might generate some confusion about whether buyers need a lawyer or just a notary when buying a property in Italy. They need both because lawyers and notaries perform different functions in real estate conveyancing and thus it is advisable for foreign buyers to obtain the assistance of Italian lawyers (Avvocati) through the labyrinth of the legal conveyancing process.
Your lawyer will act exclusively on your behalf to organise all the required searches and report on the title and the land. Your lawyer will draft a preliminary contract and advise on the timeline to exchange of contracts which will be concluded by the Notary on completion.
While it is not a legal requirement in Italy that purchasers should use a lawyer for legal assistance throughout the conveyancing procedure, buyers increasingly decide to appoint their own Avvocato to make sure that their best interests are protected all the way through the Italian property buying process, pre and post-sale.
As independent lawyer, we can work only for you and protect your own interest.
Our Italian-qualified lawyers have unique hands-on experience in negotiating complex real estate transactions, as well as handling the legal analysis and documentation.
For information about buying a property in Italy or to request the assistance of our Italian Lawyers, do not hesitate to contact us.
1. What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring legal ownership of a property from one party to another.
Real estate conveyancing involves a number of complex and interrelated activities to meet the needs and requirements of diverse interests involved in the ownership, transfer and financing of real estate.
In order to protect citizens, whether Italian or overseas, the Italian State requires that the contract must be drawn up by an impartial public official who is a specialist in this area: the notary (Notaio).
2. What is the role of a Notaio in Italian property transaction?
By law, the notary acts as a third party who is independent of both seller and buyer, ensuring that the conveyancing of the property complies with all legal requirements, in accordance with the common interests of the parties and with particular attention to the purchaser.
There are numerous activities carried out by the notary for the preparation of all documentation necessary for setting up the property transaction.
Once the deed to be prepared has been defined, the notary must by law carry out a number of preliminary checks on legality, to ensure that the contract will be valid and unquestionable over time.
The notary will ensure that the seller really owns the property and has the right to sell it; the property in question is not subject to specific constraints; the correct fiscal regime is adopted by the parties (the notary is obliged to collect from the purchaser the funds needed for the payment of taxes and duties; upon registration of the deed these will be paid); activities following completion of the deed. The main role of notaries, in terms of Italian property purchases, is to help facilitate the transfer of ownership between the buyer and seller. They oversee the property purchase, collect the taxes due and register the property with the Italian land registry (Catasto).
3. Who chooses the Notary?
The notary must be chosen by the party who is obliged to pay the costs, i.e. the purchaser. The choice is personal and must not be imposed by other professionals.
In Italy a purchaser of property is free to select a notary of his or her choice to document the transaction. In performing his or her function the notary must, by law, be independent and impartial: he or she must protect the interests of all parties equally, regardless of who has appointed him or her.
Please feel free to contact us if you need any legal advice or help finding a Notaio experienced in real estate legal conveyancing in Italy.
4. Do I need to appoint a Notary or a Solicitor when buying a property in Italy?
You need to instruct both a notary and a solicitor, because they perform different functions.
In Italy, as in most of the EU Member States with civil law traditions, the conveyancing of real estate is performed by public notaries. In Italy the profession of public notary is highly regulated. The Italian notarial system provides independent neutral legal conveyancing service to all transaction participants by highly qualified professionals who are subject to rigorous standards of financial responsibility and specialized expertise.
Despite in Italy, as in most of European jurisdictions, the function of transferring of title has become rather straightforward thanks to efficient systems of title registration, nevertheless complexity derives from many legal, financial and regulatory concerns that surround and attend the transfer and the financing of the purchase. Most of the work of conveyancers consists of dealing with a significant amount of legal aspects including consumer protective legislation, incidence of taxation, public and communal rights and interests, requirements of financing banks. All of the above aspects are external to the pure real estate conveyancing however they all make the role of a solicitor crucial in real estate transactions in Italy. While it is not a legal requirement in Italy that purchasers should use a lawyer for legal assistance throughout the conveyancing procedure, engaging the service of your own lawyer is always highly advisable.
5. How would your Solicitors at Studio Legale Lazzari assist me as a buyer in the property purchase process?
Despite engaging the service of a property a lawyer is not a legal prerequisite when buying a home in Italy, it is however crucial to consider that notaries cannot offer legal advice, hence it is highly recommended to instruct an independent Italian lawyer who would be representing the interest of you the purchaser. Our lawyers at Studio Legale Lazzari will be happy to provide you with specialist advice by ensuring that you are fully protected as a buyer and that all searches are carried out in good time.
Please contact us if you wish to learn more about our property transaction related legal service.
The writer who is a qualified lawyer in Italy (Avvocato) accepts no liability nor any responsibility for the content of this document which is intended as general information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice or advice of any kind. Professional Italian lawyers should always be instructed in these matters, especially if the prospective buyer is not fluent in Italian language and has no solid experience of purchasing a property in Italy.
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