SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: Will the latest change solve problems with Italy’s superbonus?

With lines of credit blocked and renovation work delayed, Italy’s political parties have agreed on further changes to the ‘superbonus 110’. Will this be enough to resolve issues for homeowners?

Workers on scaffolding in France.
Italy’s building bonuses may help with reconstruction costs. Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

After weeks of intense back-and-forth, parties have finally agreed on the latest amendment to Italy’s famed building superbonus, the government’s financial incentive offering a rebate of up to 110 percent of the cost of works increasing a property’s energy efficiency or reducing its seismic vulnerability.

The scheme has proven incredibly popular over the two years since its introduction back in May 2020. But access has often been hindered by technical issues, with a number of authoritative political figures, not least outgoing premier Mario Draghi, criticising the bonus for its structural complexity. 

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: How will it change after the election?

A major issue concerns the credit transfer system, with many banks across the country recently refusing to buy or lend credit, and billions of euros’ worth of fraudulent claims – causing many financial operations, and therefore building work, to be frozen altogether.

These setbacks have left many homeowners concerned about whether they’ll be able to finish their renovation projects in time and even caused some to abandon their plans

Furthermore, as many as 40,000 construction businesses are said to be currently at risk of bankruptcy due to credit transfer blockages. 

Worker standing on scaffolding in Spain.

The latest government measure seeks to reopen lines of credit and save as many as 40,000 businesses from bankruptcy. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

The latest amendment, part of the government’s new cost-of-living-crisis aid package (the decreto aiuti bis), is intended to unclog existing lines of credit and save businesses from folding.

The change was approved by the Italian Senate on Tuesday, with the go-ahead from the Lower House now being the last remaining step before the changes are made into law – deputies are expected to greenlight the amendment on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: What’s the problem with credit transfers?

So what does the latest amendment entail and, more importantly, how is it expected to affect homeowners using the bonus?

The building scheme’s latest amendment is set to remove joint and several liability (‘responsabilità in solido’ in Italian) for all parties involved in the credit transfer chain, retaining the provision only for cases of “wilful misconduct or gross negligence”.

In other words, should cases of insolvency occur, the parties involved in the transfer of credit will no longer be collectively liable to pay the amount owed unless fraud or serious neglect can be proved. 

Naturally, the measure’s primary objective is to allow for easier circulation of credit in order to restart financial operations. 

It isn’t yet clear however whether the amendment will ultimately save those businesses whose credit had been previously blocked and allow homeowners to complete construction works by the given deadlines. 

Construction worker wiping sweat off his brow.

As things stand, 30 percent of renovation works on single-family homes must be completed by September 30th, 2022. Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP

On this note, it is worth mentioning that there was no provision made under the amendment to extend timeframes for claiming the bonus.

As things stand, those renovating single-family homes still need to complete 30 percent of renovation works by September 30th and must achieve 100-percent completion by December 31st in order to benefit from the funds.

READ ALSO: Nine things we’ve learned about claiming Italy’s building ‘superbonus’

Those renovating certain other types of buildings, or those in areas with higher seismic risk, have until 2025 to claim.

Looming deadlines notwithstanding, both the Italian Banking Association (Associazione Bancaria Italiana, ABI) and the National Constructors Association (Associazione Nazionale Costruttori Edili, ANCE) have expressed cautious satisfaction over the latest amendment, with the former praising the measure as a “step forward”.

Five Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, who was responsible for introducing the bonus while prime minister in 2020, commended the amendment, saying that a solution had finally been found for the “businesses, workers and families who had been forgotten by all”. 

Others aren’t sure however that the latest update will solve the issues for good. 

Notably, the president of the National Council of Surveyors (CNG), Maurizio Savincelli, said the amendment would not fully resolve the credit transfer blockage as “banks will likely wait for new measures, including memos from the Italian Revenue Agency” before they reopen lines of credit.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more information on claiming Italy’s building bonuses, homeowners are advised to consult a qualified Italian building surveyor or financial advisor.

See more in our Italian property section.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

PROPERTY

PROPERTY: Should you hire a renovation agency for your Italian home?

If you're renovating a home in Italy, will you need to pay a middleman to cut through the red tape and language barriers? Silvia Marchetti looks at the pros and cons.

PROPERTY: Should you hire a renovation agency for your Italian home?

The idea of snapping up a cheap, crumbling house in a picturesque Italian village may sound appealing – but doing so always comes with tedious paperwork and the hassle of renovation.

For this reason, a growing number of professional agencies have sprung up in Italy to cater to foreign buyers snapping up cheap homes amid the property frenzy.

In many of the Italian towns selling one-euro or cheap homes, there are now ‘restyle experts’ and agencies that offer renovation services handling everything that could become a nightmare: from dealing with the paperwork and fiscal issues to finding a notary for the deed, contracting an architect, surveyor, a building team and the right suppliers for the furniture.

They also handle the sometimes tricky task of reactivating utilities in properties that have been abandoned for decades.

I’ve travelled to many of these villages and looked at this side of the business, too. Hiring these ‘middle people’ comes with pros and cons, though the positive aspects can certainly outweigh the negatives – provided you’re careful to pick the right professionals. 

READ ALSO: Why Italians aren’t snatching up their country’s one-euro homes

These intermediaries are usually locals who have expertise in real estate and a good list of suppliers’ contacts. This allows them to deliver turnkey homes that were once just heaps of decaying rubble, sparing buyers time and money – particularly those living abroad, who then aren’t forced to fly over to Italy countless times a year to follow the work in progress.

I’ve met several buyers from abroad who purchased cheap homes sight unseen after merely looking at photos posted online by local authorities, but then had to book many expensive long-haul flights to hire the architect, get the paperwork done, and select the construction team (a few even got stuck here during Covid).

Thanks to their contacts the local agents can ensure fast-track renovations are completed within 2-4 months, which could prove very useful as the ‘superbonus’ frenzy in Italy has caused a builder shortage meaning many people renovating property now face long delays

Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP

Their all-inclusive commission usually starts at 5 percent of the total cost of a renovation, or at 2.500 euros per house independently from its cost and dimension. The fee also depends on the type of work being carried out, how tailored it is and whether there are any specific requirements, like installing an indoor elevator or having furniture pieces shipped from the mainland if it happens to be a Sicilian or Sardinian village. 

However, buyers must always be careful. It is highly recommended to make sure the local authorities know who these agents are and how reliable they are in delivering results.

Town halls can often suggest which local companies to contact, and this gives the renovation legitimacy in my view. In a small village, where everyone knows each other, when the town hall recommends an agency there’s always a certain degree of trust involved and agents know that their credibility is at stake (and also future commissions by more clients). 

Word of mouth among foreign buyers is a powerful tool; it can be positive or detrimental for the agency if a restyle isn’t done the right way, or with too many problems.

READ ALSO: How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

So it’s best to avoid agencies from another village, even if nearby, who come to you offering fast and super-cheap services, or local agencies that are not suggested by the mayor’s office. 

Then of course there can be other downsides, which largely depend on how ‘controlling’ and demanding the client is. 

For those not based in Italy full-time, the most important consideration is: how much can you trust these professionals to deliver what you expect, exactly how you want it, without having to be constantly on the ground? 

Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

Language can be a major obstacle. There are technical building terms that prove difficult to translate, and if the local agency doesn’t have English-speaking renovation professionals with a track record in following foreign clients it’s best to look for an intermediary with a greater language proficiency. 

I remember meeting an American couple once who got lost in translation with a village agent for days, and had to hire a translator just to hire the intermediary.

It’s always useful to ask for a ‘preventivo’ (quote) with VAT indication, considering roughly how much inflation could make the final cost go up. Buyers should also sign a contract with the exact timeframe of the works and delivery date of the new home, including penalties if there are delays on the part of the agency. 

READ ALSO:

But, even when there is complete trust, I think it is impossible to fully restyle an old home from a distance, contacting intermediaries by phone, emails, messages or video calls only. 

Details are key and there’s always something that could be misinterpreted. Buyers based overseas should still follow-up the renovation phases personally, perhaps with one or two flights per year to check all is going well and up to schedule.

Asking to see the costs so far undertaken midway through the restyle is useful to make sure there are no hidden costs or unexpected third parties involved – like buying the most expensive furniture or marble floor when not requested, or hiring a carpenter to build artisan beds.

While there is really no such thing as a hassle-free renovation, these agencies can ease the pressure and do most of the burdensome work – but buyers’ supervision will always be needed.

Read more in The Local’s Italian property section.

SHOW COMMENTS