A number of clients from the UK have been asking us how Brexit (the planned exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union at a future date) might affect their plan to have a home in Italy. The plain answer is that we do not believe Brexit will in any way affect the right of British citizens to buy, own or sell property in Italy.
There is currently no bar to foreign ownership of property in Italy, with rare exceptions such as when purchase funds are sent from an offshore tax haven. Italy draws no distinction between EU and non-EU countries in terms of the right to own property, the purchase taxes that are levied or the annual municipality taxes on a property. We have had non-EU clients buy property year after year with no difficulty related to their country of origin – US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai, Switzerland, Russia and many others. The UK is simply another country outside the EU once Brexit happens.
There was a bizarre rule affecting Australian buyers for many years, whereby they were only able to buy a newly constructed home in Italy. However, this reflected a restriction imposed by Australia on Italians buying property in Australia, which has now been removed. Provided the UK does nothing to disadvantage Italians wishing to buy a home in the UK (and why would the Brits ever be unkind to Italians?) then Italy will have no need to retaliate.
Under a European mortgage directive, mortgages need to be capable of being converted into the currency of the borrower’s income. Sterling is currently on a very short list of foreign currencies which are generally acceptable to Italian banks and, so far as we know, likely to remain so. The British advantage should continue after Brexit.
The ability of UK citizens to travel freely within the EU remains to be resolved, but seems likely to remain unrestricted. There may conceivably be a registration or visa requirement in due course, but this would apply to any Brit who decides to travel to Italy whether for business, on holiday or to visit their home.