Italy: The Title Deed

Last Updated: 8 August 2017
Article by Calogero Boccadutri

The document that concludes the sale and transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer is the title  deed.

The title deed is a public act, which is stipulated before a notary, and serves to fine-tune the agreements already reached in the preliminary contract.

For it to be valid, it must contain precise information and details on the dates, agreements and the parties in question.

The importance of the notary in the title deed

The notary, acting as a public official, makes the deed of sale legal and clarifies what exactly it entails.

When the title deed is reached it is good practice to let the buyer choose the notary. However, if a house is yet to be built, it is advisable to trust the seller's notary, who, already being in possession of all documents, may act in a fraction of the time.

The notary verifies first of all that the property has everything in order to be sold, whether there is, for example, collateral, whether there are obligations, and whether it is present in the house and urban registries as it should be.

The notary still clarifies the identity of the parties, the legality of the deed and the truthfulness of how much is declared.

Moreover, it is up to them to collect taxes owed by the buyer on behalf of the Treasury. 

What happens during the stipulation of the title deed

The notary must read the title deed in its entirety to the parties involved.

Usually one requests only the presence of the buyer or seller, but it is not rare for them to be accompanied by witnesses.

It is important for the notary to explain the contract to the defendants, because the content and its judicial effects ought to be clear for everyone.

The missing documentation would make them legally responsible for the crime of forgery of a public document.

If after reading, the parties agree on the content, they can sign the title deed.

Duration of the title deed

The notary must register the title deed at the regional agency within twenty days, and arrange for payment to the treasury of the taxes received from the seller during the stipulation of the title deed.

Once registered, the contract is made public. Anyone can oppose it if irregularities can be found.

The successive transcription of the change of ownership, or transfer, at the revenue agencies, happens one month after the registration. This is again carried out by the notary. 

The title deed as confirmation of the preliminary contract

The title deed, in order for it to be valid, must contain information already declared in the preliminary sales contract.

The identity of the stakeholders and the value of the property at the moment of transfer must be confirmed. What must also be shown is the future payment and potential distribution of deposits, the absence of ties or collateral and the reception of land registry information.

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The case of a mortgage

If, in order to acquire a property, a mortgage is granted, it is formalised straight after the signing of the contract, in order to allow for the distribution of the finances.

There is also the possibility that the mortgage is not granted because of the delays of the credit institution, in which case a credit transfer order can be signed, which safeguards the buyer until the financing is obtained: it will provide the payment when it is financially able to do so.

The unknowns of transcription times

The title deed process concludes with its transcription in the real estate registry by the notary. Unpleasant episodes can occur, mainly at the expense of the buyer in the period of time that passes between the deed and its transcription.

In fact, the seller, if dishonest, could sell the same property to other people, pocket the money and disappear. But they could also be subjected to a foreclosure (whether expected or not), or take out a mortgage on the property.

In case of more sales, by law, the one that is deposited first is valued, notwithstanding that the scammer would in any case face criminal consequences for their actions.

In all cases, the best advice is to contact a lawyer straight away. 

Suspending a title deed

The remote possibility exists of having to revoke a title deed, and allowing it is a law that came into being during the Second World War.

Royal decree no. 267/1942, in paragraph 67 of the bankruptcy law, sets out the suspension of the deed if it happened "in the year before the declaration of bankruptcy, in which the services accomplished or the obligations caused by bankruptcy surpass a quarter of what was given or promised to him."

When you buy or sell a house it is good not to leave anything to chance. Get advice from a qualified professional that understands what the possible pitfalls might be and ways of avoiding them.

The expert real estate lawyers of Boccadutri International Law Firm will be able to guide you through the steps to the sale.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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