Inheriting a share of a property in Italy

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When someone passes away and leaves an unidentified share of the same property (e.g. land, flat, house etc) to more than one beneficiary, that property will be considered in co-ownership and therefore is jointly held by those beneficiaries. For example, a person may leave a property to their children and their spouse, and in these circumstances the beneficiaries become co-owners of the same property, thereby creating a so called ‘comunione ereditaria’.

You are resident in the UK and have inherited a property in Italy with other beneficiaries – can you sell the property?

Italian law provides different options:

  • A co-owner who does not wish to keep the property could sell their share to the other co-owners or to one co-owner who will buy them out
  • A co-owner could donate their share to the other co-owners
  • All the co-owners can agree to sell the property and split the proceeds
  • All the co-owners can agree to divide the co-owned property and each becomes the owner of a specific independent share of it. In this situation, each co-owner must provide their consent and the division occurs by an official deed prepared by the Notary (atto di divisione)

What happens if the other co-owners do not want to purchase your share or do not agree to the sale of the whole property? Also, what if the co-owned property cannot be divided?

Sometimes the property is not divisible. This can happen when its value would drastically drop by dividing it, or if the division would involve substantial costs or affect its functionality or value.

It is also possible that the other co-owners might not want to purchase your share, nor agree to sell the property to third parties. In these circumstances, Article 720 of the Italian civil code specifies that a judicial proceeding and a Court Order will be necessary to:

  • Assign the immovable property to the beneficiary(s) / co-owner(s) in exchange for money
  • Sell the propertyand split the proceeds among the co-owners in proportion with their share
  • Sell the property at the judicial auction

Before proceeding with a Court hearing, it is mandatory that the parties attempt to seek a non-contentious resolution of the issue by way of a mediation. Only if the outcome of the mediation is negative and the co-owners cannot reach an agreement, is it permissible to proceed with a Court hearing.

What if you want to sell your share to third parties?

Should you wish to proceed with the sale of your share, Article 732 of the Italian civil code states that you must first offer your share to the other co-owners at the same price and conditions that would be offered to the third party. In fact, the beneficiaries/co-owners have the pre-emption right, prelazione ereditaria, on the share of the co-owned inherited property. As such, the co-owners have two months from the final notification to decide whether they wish to purchase your share of the property and buy you out.

In light of the above, it should be stressed that from a legal point of view, it is perfectly valid to sell your inherited share of a joint property to third parties. However, from a commercial perspective, it is unlikely that a third party would be willing to purchase only a share of a property and not its entirety.

If you wish to obtain further information on your options, please do contact us for more tailored advice.