What is Usucapione?
Usucapione is a legal procedure which can give you ownership of a property in Italy without need of any specific title such as a deed of purchase or a Will and without any agreement with the owner of the property.
Usucapione is similar to Adverse Possession. It is a legal situation which is connected with possession of a property which must not happen with hostility.
How does it work?
The possession of whole or part of a property and or land must take place, with public knowledge. After a number of years which can be 10 or 20 depending on the circumstances, the possessor can obtain the legal title and become the legal owner of this property; this happens even if you aware the owner of the property is someone else.
You become owner of a property belonging to someone else if you possess the asset i.e. you make use of it somehow for a period of time and if you behave, during this time, as if you were the owner of this property.
At the same time, the real owner should have behaved by not showing any interest in this property, letting the property be implicitly used by another party; typically, this might be someone who has moved abroad, not taking care of this property and neglecting it.
What is the purpose of this?
Usucapione has the legal purpose of giving certainty to legal relationships giving a privilege to someone who is not actually the owner, but who nevertheless takes care of the property. The owner being deemed as not taking care of it and neglecting it completely.
20 years for real estate assets, acquired in bad faith. This starts from the moment of possession. While this becomes 10 years if you obtain possession in good faith. This period of time must be continuous with no interruptions.
How can I formally benefit from Usucapione?
In order to convert this factual condition (possession) into ownership it is necessary to obtain a court decision to declare that usucapione occurred. It is a ‘factual’ condition and must be recognised in court. You can give evidence in any way but this typically takes place through witnesses. The peaceful possession taking place throughout time without interruptions can give title of ownership of a property. However, it is necessary to obtain a court decision declaring usucapione is taking place.
Who should I contact?
Therefore, if you own property in Italy, which you have neglected for sometime, it is advisable to consult a specialist Italian property attorney to prevent the risks connected with usucapione.