Buying or renting property in Italy: how to deal with Italian estate agents
According to the Italian law, estate agents must be duly authorized and enrolled in the chamber of commerce of the province in which they work or live, whether they operate as independent professionals or are employed by an agency.
Duty and obligations of Italian estate agents
To practice their profession lawfully, Italian estate agents must have adequate insurance coverage. Such insurance policy is meant to protect the consumer in cases of professional negligence. Moreover, estate agents must be impartial and unbiased: even if they operate on behalf of the buyer or the seller of the property, they must not collaborate, represent or be employed by any of the parties.
Estate agents are expected to act with due diligence and are thus obliged to give information on each circumstance in their knowledge (or that they simply should have known according to the principle of normal professional diligence) that might have an impact on the transaction (eg. lack of building regulation approval, construction abuses). They must also avoid providing wrong or non verified information.
If the buyer and/or the seller of the property do not do so, the estate agent is obliged to request the registration of the preliminary contracts of sale or rent signed through their mediation. He is also responsible – together with the contracting parties – for the payment of the registration fee at the Italian Revenue Agency.
If you’re planning to buy or rent property in Italy, an Italian real estate lawyer can help you verify if the estate agent is practicing his profession in accordance with the law, highlight any liability and prevent damages or losses.
Liability of Italian estate agents
Lack of respect of due diligence and legal obligations could cause the estate agent’s contractual responsibility and the right of the consumer to request the repayment of the commission. Under special circumstances, the consumer could also be entitled to request compensation for damages. If the guilty silence of the estate agent induced the consumer to finalize the contract under different conditions than he would have had if he was properly informed, the real estate agent could be responsible to pay for the difference.
Who should pay the commission of the estate agent? And when?
The Italian estate agent is entitled to a commission from both parties only if the deal is closed thanks to his intervention; he or she must have a decisive role in the transaction. Simply generating the lead of a potential buyer without accomplishing any other task is not enough to be entitled to such right.
Since the law does not provide the cost of the commission, this can always be freely agreed by the parties. You should ask the estate agent what is the amount of the commission and which party is expected to pay it, and when. The estate agent’s right to the commission could arise already at the signature of the preliminary contract.
It is always advisable to agree the commission in writing.
Let us know if we can help
Once you find a property in Italy you want to buy or rent, you should carefully consider any legal implications. Italian real estate laws are complex: an experienced Italian lawyer will protect your interests throughout the process.
Besides having strong real property and conveyancing skills, our team of attorneys speak English and French fluently and assists foreign clients on a daily basis.
If you want to buy or rent an Italian property and you need legal assistance, contact us for a free consultation.
Notice: this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation and does not represent formal legal advice. Studio Legale Palmigiano accepts no liability or responsibility for any statement made.