There are any number of property websites providing advice and information on the general issues involved with buying and owning a property in Italy. However, my intention is to uncover some lesser-known elements of property ownership. Whilst the chances of encountering these situations may be slim, being in possession of as many facts as possible allows you to mitigate, if not completely eliminate, the risks.
One such rule falls under the Civil Code of ‘Responsabilita’ Solidale’. In simple terms this means that in situations of joint liability, such as maintenance of a communal apartment building where the management company is unable to pay, a creditor can request payment from all the members. If some do not pay their share, the remaining members can be forced to make up the difference, and in extreme circumstances, i.e. no one else has any money, this could mean just you!
Alternative methods of debt restitution are increasingly being pursued and enforced, however, it is still possible to encounter this principle.
Ways to protect yourself are:
- If possible, before purchasing an apartment, check the financial health of the building management company – in my experience, most are not in good shape!
- If you are already an owner, make sure that all contracts for work carried out on the building contain a clause specifically stating that each individual is liable only for his/her own respective share of the debt.
- Lastly, whilst I can’t advocate the efficacy, some people like to adopt the old fashioned method of self preservation by simply not having too much spare cash in the bank. Although most of us don’t have that problem!