Removal of partition walls: guide to the necessary building permits


Emma Potter

Nowadays the transformation of closed environments into open space solutions represents an increasingly marked trend. This need for modernization, however, often clashes with the need to comply with specific building regulations that regulate interventions on real estate.

A recent ruling by the Lazio TAR, with sentence no. 809 of 17 January 2024, provides fundamental clarifications regarding the removal of internal partitions and the installation of French windows, highlighting the importance of correctly fulfilling the authorization procedures to avoid sanctions.

This article aims to analyze the ruling and offer guidance for navigating the complexities of building regulations, ensuring that internal renovation works are carried out legally.

The story: a case of urban restructuring

The case in question concerns an apartment owner in Rome who, wishing to improve the functionality of his property, undertook works to remove an internal partition and install a new window.

Although the works did not affect the structural elements of the building, and were therefore presented to the municipality with a regular sworn Notice of Commencement of Works (CILA), accompanied by a detailed project, the intervention prompted the intervention of the Municipal Police. The latter, noting the removal of a wall not foreseen in the initial communications, led the Municipality to sanction the owner with a significant payment order.

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However, a more careful analysis of the documentation could have prevented the dispute brought before the Lazio TAR, which then clarified some crucial points regarding the need for authorization for interventions of this type.

The verdict of the Lazio TAR

Going deeper into the sentence of the TAR Lazio n. 809/2024, it emerges that the local authority initially failed to recognize the actual nature of the works carried out by the owner. Despite the demolition of an internal partition and the installation of a new French window, elements which might seem minor, the municipality deemed these actions without the necessary building permit.

The documentation provided by the owner, however, clearly highlighted that the works they did not alter the volume or square footage of the property and that the disputed opening was in line with the pre-existing characteristics of the building, in accordance with what was presented in the approved plans.

This case highlights the importance of a correct interpretation of building regulations and authorization procedures, especially in densely populated urban contexts, where aesthetic and functional modifications to properties are frequent but must remain in compliance with the law.

The Lazio Regional Administrative Court's decision underlines a fundamental principle in the context of building renovations: the distinction between works that affect the structural elements of the property and those that, although modifying the internal appearance, do not alter the overall volume or size.

In the specific case, despite the demolition of an internal wall and the installation of a new French window, the Court recognized that the works had been duly communicated through CILA and that no further building authorization was necessary. This is because, in line with the documentation provided, the modifications did not involve an increase in volume or a modification of the structural elements.

The TAR has, therefore, invalidated the sanctions imposed by the Municipalityestablishing an important precedent for similar works that respect the criteria established by current legislation.

Also important is the reference to sentence no. 4635/2022 of the Lazio TARwhich extended the principle to the modification of properties located in areas with landscape restrictions, demonstrating how the correct presentation of documentation and compliance of the works with regulations can protect owners from unjustified sanctions.

Legal implications and CILA

Finally, it is essential to understand the legal implications associated with failing to file the CILA. The law, specifically the art. 6 bis of Presidential Decree no. 380/2001, provides for a financial penalty for anyone who omits such communication, highlighting the importance of fulfilling all procedural obligations required for the implementation of building works.

Art. 6-bis
Interventions subject to sworn communication of the start of work

1. Interventions not included in the list referred to in articles 6, 10 and 22 can be carried out following communication, also electronically, of the start of the works by the interested party to the competent administration, without prejudice to the provisions of the instruments planning, building regulations and current urban planning and construction regulations, and in any case in compliance with other sector regulations having an impact on the regulation of construction activity and, in particular, with anti-seismic, safety, fire prevention, hygiene and health regulations, those relating to energy efficiency, protection from hydrogeological risk, as well as the provisions contained in the code of cultural heritage and landscape, referred to in Legislative Decree 22 January 2004, n. 42.
2. The interested party sends the project document and the communication of the start of the works to the municipal administration, sworn by a qualified technician, who certifies, under his own responsibility, that the works comply with the approved urban planning instruments and the building regulations in force , as well as that they are compatible with the legislation on seismic matters and with that on energy performance in buildings and that there is no involvement of the structural parts of the building; the communication also contains the identification data of the company to which it is intended to entrust the carrying out of the works.
3. For interventions subject to CILA, where the communication of the end of the works is accompanied by the required documentation for the cadastral change, the latter is promptly forwarded by the municipal administration to the competent offices of the Revenue Agency.
4.Regions with ordinary statute:
a) they may extend the regulations referred to in this article to building interventions further than those provided for in paragraph 1;
b) regulate the methods of carrying out checks, including random checks and providing for on-site inspections.
5. Failure to swornly communicate the start of work will result in a fine of 1,000 euros. This sanction is reduced by two thirds if the communication is made spontaneously when the intervention is being carried out.

The decision of the Lazio TAR, however, reiterates that, in the face of correct communication and the absence of unauthorized structural or volumetric changes, the application of sanctions for the simple modification of internal elements of the property is not justifiable, as in the case of demolition of non-load-bearing partitions or the installation of new fixtures.

This ruling therefore represents an important point of reference for owners and professionals in the sector, offering greater clarity on the authorization procedures and the possible consequences in the event of non-compliance.