A certificate of habitability (certificato di abitabilità) confirms a property’s compliance with safety and sanitation rules, the efficiency of the property’s systems and that the property complies with building regulations and planning permission.
Recently the certificate of habitability has been replaced by what could be as certificate of habitability report, which should include the following documents:
- Report from building works manager;
- Certification of structural soundness;
- Cadastral update;
- Systems compliance;
Habitability and property sales
According to case law, only an explicit written contractual waiver can exempt a vendor from the responsibility to deliver a valid certificate of habitability.
What if the buyer is unaware of the absence of a certificate of habitability (certificato di abitabilità)?
The absence of a certificate of habitability does not nullify a deed of sale but it does generate effects on the vendor’s contractual responsibility.
According to the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) the sale of a property lacking a certificate of habitability can be classified as “aliud pro alio” the regime applicable when a seller transfers something that is fundamentally different from that on which an agreement is based. Essentially, the property can be considered as being misrepresented.
According to this interpretation, the certificate of habitability (certificato di abitabilità) is a feature of the property, validating its socio-economic purpose. It confirms that the property meets the needs which led the buyer to purchase it in first place.
The Consolidated Building Law simplifies the administrative procedure concerning the issuance of a certificate of habitability. It explicitly provides for assumed-consent and has also extended the number of parties entitled to apply for a certificate of habitability.
In case of the absence of a certificate of habitability (certificato di abitabilità), case law excludes the nullifying the purchase contract but confirms the right of the buyer to claim for breach of contract and to claim compensation for the damage suffered.This is based on the consideration that the certificate of habitability is considered as an essential feature to allow enjoyment of the asset.
In conclusion, in the context of a residential property sale, the certificate of habitability represents an element identifying the asset in reference with its ability to fulfil the negotiated socio-economic function, therefore satisfying the need which induced the buyer to sign the contract.