Help! How does the law in Italy apply

11/19/2014 - 10:25

Help! How does the law in Italy apply for non payment of Condominium charges? Both my brother and myself live in the UK and we each own a 30% share of an appartment in Italy that we have inherited. A will was left by our late mother who was Italian, however she had left a will leaving a greater share between me and my brother. The remainder 40% is divided by the remaining 5 heirs. Both me and my brother have fallen out with the other heirs so there is no communication. As executors we had dealt with bills etc but now funds left by our mother are depleted. The condominium has chosen me to chase payments or it will go through the hands of their solicitors. Can I be held legally responsible under Italian Law? Advise please.



As modicasa says, you can only be held responsible of your share in the expenses; however, because the condominium has given you the responsibility of chasing the other debtors (something you should not have accepted in view of the lack of communication amongst the heirs) my advice would be to write a letter to those heirs stating the current situation, how much is due by each one, instructions for payment and informing them that the Condominium is prepared to take legal action to recover the debt. Also ask them to state what they are prepared to do about it and give them only a couple of weeks to reply in writing. Send it certified mail with acknowledgement of receipt. Inform the Condominium of what you are doing (in writing) and once the deadline given has expired, send the Condominium all copies so that they may decide. Make sure that your share has been duly paid and acknowledged.You are going to need a lawyer to sort out what comes next. It is possible that some of the heirs will decide to sell, so you are going to have to decide about the future of the property with the remaining heirs (possibly buying their share after deducting expenses).A ¨´pro-indiviso´ is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately it was used quite frequently in the past as a way to keep properties in the hands of the family. It does not work.Good luck!

Thank you for your reply. It has been very difficult to communicate with the remaining heirs. They  will not co-operate as they believe that my late mother had signed a will against her wishes. The administrator of the Condominium who i know personally is using the easy option of leaving it to me to resolve outstanding payments,saying that a family dispute is not his concern. I have tried verbally in the past but just get abuse. On of the heirs lives in another part of Italy and personally I think it would make more sense to contact her. If, the property is seized and a sale forced am I solely responsible fo my share? What is my worst case scenario?  I really do not want to go down the path of using a solicitor as their fee are horrendous with no guaranteed outcome. Your thoughts? Thank you

Not knowing the succession details, whether it has been contested or not and whether you all hold the title, it is impossible for anyone to give you any more advice. You will have to think at the real value of your share and whether it is worth the protracted dispute. These family affairs are really toxic. And you will not avoid using a solicitor because it is a highly complicated legal matter. Have the other heirs legally contested the will? It is all most unfortunate and a pity that your late mother signed this will. And the administrator of the Condominium is simply doing the right thing, your family dispute is not his concern. It is up to all of you to sort out your differences in a civilized manner. This type of problems cannot be solved in a forum. Not even a legal one.I can only wish you good luck... sorry! 

Thank You so much for your prompt reply. I do agree that family affairs are so toxic.In answer to your question, succession has gone through and the will has not been legally contested. There was a good reason why my mother had done the will, she had wanted my sister to be disinherited due adult abuse. Consequently my mother had a protection order through Social Services and was placed in a nursing home. I should have said that besides me and my brother legally owning 30% each, the remaining 40% is owned between my sister and the children of remaining two heirs (two deceased brothers) Each have two children. Therefore, my brother, sister and myself are direct heirs the remaining are grandchildren . Had their been no will my sister would be in control and take over! My sister and her children had taken control of my mother's finances through deceit, and brought her back to the UK knowing that she was terminally ill. I am sorry to trouble with you with such a complicated issue. Can the Condominium force a sale and claim back the amount that is due?     Thanh you once again.

Sorry to hear such a terrible story. Unfortunately, there seems to be quite a few cases like this in many families and in all countries. As the succession has not been contested and it has gone through, there seems to be little left to do to the 40% owners and between your brother and yourself you hold 60%. Having said that, it is obvious that a lot of things can be done by the 40% party to make your life miserable (which is exactly what they are doing). Going to the practical side, any party who is owed monies (and this could include the Condominium, but also Council and other parties can force a sale to claim back due amounts (and since the monies left in your late mother's account are now gone, lots of debts will accumulate). After completing legal procedures, the property may be going to auction. Someone may buy it, the amount will go to pay debts and expenses and whatever is left will be proportionally distributed amongst the owners, including yourself. This may take some time, but meanwhile you will have this permanent burden upon you. Is it worth it? Is there any other way to reach an agreement? In any case, it seems obvious that the pro-indiviso cannot continue. If your brother and yourself are in agreement, it may be advisable to buy that 40%, which is causing all the problems. But you are going to need a lawyer. Perhaps you could sit down with your brother, discuss what can be done and see whether at least the two of you can work out a course of action which will free you from this situation. Perhaps if you both make an offer to the others, they may decide to sell.In any case, good luck and best wishes.  

Gaia is absolutely right - you should sned registered letters to all the co-owers telling them that they owe their part of the condo charges and you are not legally responsible for their debts.  That is, as far as you are concerned, the end of the matter. Send copies to the condominium administrator - he is paid to administrate - and he can then chase them for their payments.   If there is a threat of reposession or court action you are in the clear - the debts are on the person, not the property and as the debtors do not own 100% of the property, the court is unlikely to allow an ipoteca - they would choose instead to chase them through a debt collection agency.   In my opnion there is no necessity at the moment to use a solicitor - you can send a registered letter A/R, keep copies, receipts.   

Thank you for the last reply. It appears that the administrator is looking for an easy option,he said that he wrote to the other heirs but had no response. Not sure if had registered the letters. The fact that I know the administrator personally makes me think that he is using the easier option for me to chase payment. He also stated that the Condominium's solicitor has chosen  to select me, as under italian law he can select any heir and it is i who hold the greater share?!!  I feel the administrator is not doing his job correctly. Is there a law to say that I am not responible for the debts and can I quote this to the administrator? Your help and response is greatly appreciated in this very difficult and complicated matter.