Changing the intended use of a property: how it works

The property and its intended use

A property or any building construction, in the language of urban planning, has its own intended use, established since it was designed, even before being built, and which consists of the methods and purposes with which it is used.

Currently a construction can have different uses. Below are the intended uses for urban planning:

  • the industrial use refers to factories, the transformation of goods, artisanal production, and their related activities;
  • the destination for residential use is intended for common homes, houses, palaces, villas, but also for the guest house service;
  • the commercial destination refers to sales activities, shops, offices in charge of services, catering; the rural or agricultural one for breeding, agricultural production, greenhouses, agritourism;
  • the destination for tourist use refers to all tourist reception activities, from hotels to hostels.

In the abundance of different intended uses, it can sometimes happen that, for various reasons, it is necessary to vary the type of use that is made of a property compared to the initial project, which determined its construction, given that over time they can change how you use it. Let’s see some concrete cases.

Real examples of change of use

The change of intended use allows you to change the function to which the real estate unit is used: the need to transform an office into a home or vice versa, or a house in a commercial premises, or other types of change based on needs may occur of use.

Here are some examples that can happen in everyday life:

  • are you looking for the apartment of your dreams, you go round and round, look at it a lot and, when you find what you like, are you surprised that the land register shows that the destination is for office use?
  • you are the owner of a shop located in a secondary street of your city, you have closed it to transfer it to a commercial street;
  • are you aware that some offices have not been used for years, the premises are available and would you like to use them as a home?
  • the farmhouse where cheese was once made is now abandoned and would you like to restructure it?

The four examples presented above refer to unused properties whose intended use could be transformed into a civilian home, i.e. a house. Sometimes the exact opposite could also happen!

The Master Plan

To change the intended use of a property or construction, it is necessary to have the appropriate authorizations in order not to incur the transgression of the laws, committing a building abuse.

Before proceeding with the request for a change of intended use, it is necessary to check the rules provided in the Municipality where the property is located, the rules set out in the Master Plan which takes into account the Cadastre and the Town Planning.

There are no equal rules for the whole national territory as the Municipalities have the task of welcoming and updating the national and regional urban planning provisions with their own regulatory plans.

The request for the change of intended use

If there are no impediments related to the rules of the master plan, the surveyor, registered in the register, which is identified to follow the procedure, can submit the request for a change of use at the municipal offices in charge of urban planning.

In the case of works to adapt the room to the change of destination (in the case of an office that becomes a home and requires a kitchen and domestic bathroom), the surveyor must present the permit to carry out the work.

If the property is located inside the condominium, the prohibition to change the intended use may be indicated in the condominium regulation. In this case it would not be possible to submit the request to the Municipality. If, however, the condominium regulation does not report anything about it, you can proceed with the change of intended use, without anyone opposing it.

When you obtain permission from the Municipality to change the intended use of the property, and after the end of the renovation works, if any, you must ask the municipal offices for the certificate of viability. To obtain usability it is necessary to attach all the documentation relating to the safety of heating and energy systems, released by authorized companies.

The transition from one use to the other requires the time necessary for the delivery of the forms and the granting of the permit by the Municipality, as well as any expenses for the urbanization charges and the surveyor’s fee: expenses and times vary depending on of the region where the property is located.