The “Cura Italia” law decree and the “Simplifications” law decree introduced two extraordinary regimes of extensions of the deadlines for the commencement and completion of works provided for in building permits and in the so-called “Segnalazioni Certificate di Inizio Attività” (or SCIA), the first of which is automatically effective and the second subject to the express declaration of the applicant.
The pandemic emergency
The health emergency caused by Covid-19 led to a stoppage of construction work for a period of about two and a half months, followed by delays due to difficulties in finding and delivering materials and work equipment, as well as problems in supplying personal protective equipment.
In order to deal with these delays, the Italian Government has adopted a series of measures to provide for an extraordinary extension of the deadlines for the start and completion of work.
Indeed, with the “Cura Italia” (Law Decree no. 18 of 17 March 2020), the Government has provided that all certificates, permits and authorisations, including the deadlines for the beginning and completion of works provided for in building permits expiring between 31 January 2020 and the declaration of the termination of the state of emergency, shall remain valid for ninety days following the declaration of the termination of the state of emergency itself.
At present, the relevant deadline has been set at 30 April 2021 pursuant to Article 1 of Law Decree No. 2 of 14 January 2021.
Therefore, if the end of the state of emergency were actually declared on 30 April 2021, the expiry date of a building permit with a deadline for beginning work initially scheduled – e.g. – for 31 July 2020 would be automatically delayed until 29 July 2021 (i.e. 90 days after the end of the state of emergency).
The calculation of deadlines becomes more difficult if we try to compare the automatic extension provided by Cura Italia with the “optional” extension provided by the so-called Simplification Decree (Law Decree 76/2020) of one year and three years of the deadlines for the start and end of works.
The extension provided for by the Simplification Decree can be obtained on the simple declaration of the applicant that he wishes to obtain it, provided that the permit has not already expired and that it does not conflict with new approved or adopted urban planning instruments.
As a result of the Simplification Decree, the deadlines for the commencement and completion of work on a building permit originally set for 31 July 2020 and 31 July 2023 may be extended to 31 July 2021 (1+1) and 31 July 2027 (3+3) respectively.
It is natural to wonder whether the extraordinary extensions provided for by the Cura Italia and the Simplification Decree can be added together.
If the answer were no, this would lead to a paradoxical conclusion, according to which the “optional” extension under the Simplification Decree could never be applied, considering that the extension under the Cura Italia takes effect automatically, without being subject to any request or conclusion.
If the Government had meant to forbid the cumulation of the two extensions, it would have provided for it expressly.
The deadline extensions
Therefore, building permits and SCIAs can benefit from both extensions.
As a result of the cumulative nature of the two extensions provided for by the “Cura Italia” Decree and the “Simplification Decree”, and given that the state of emergency is currently scheduled to last until 30 April 2021, the deadline for starting work on a building permit originally set for 31 July 2020 could be extended:
- to 29 July 2021 under Cura Italia (90 days after the declaration of the state of emergency), and then benefit from a further extension
- to 29 July 2022 under the Simplification Decree (1 year).
In the same way, the deadline for completion would be extended:
- to 29 July 2024 on the basis of Cura Italia alone (start date + 90 days + 3 years) and, in fact, until
- 29 July 2028 due to the combination of the provisions of the Cura Italia and the Simplifications Decree, determined as follows: extended start date under the Cura Italia (29 July 2022) + 3 years (“ordinary” deadline for completion of works) + a further 3 years (Simplifications Decree).
Such deadlines could be further extended by the ( highly) possible extension of the state of emergency beyond 30 April 2021.
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