Milan introduces safety certificates for housing

All private buildings over 50 years old to be checked.

Milan is the first city in Italy to introduce an obligatory structural safety check for older buildings.

All privately-owned buildings which have not been certified structurally safe must now be checked by civil engineers for evidence of undue wear and tear. If an external inspection raises doubts, a more thorough investigation may be necessary to obtain a certificate of structural integrity (certificato di idoneità statica, or CIS).

The move has not been prompted by the recent devastating earthquake in central Italy, or by the mysterious collapse of a building in Rome’s Ponte Milvio district: it had been slumbering on the city books since November 2014, but only last month were the operational guidelines finally drawn up and approved, in cooperation with Milan province’s branch of the Order of Engineers.

The law will apply in the first instance to all buildings over 50 years old, or which reach that age during the next three years. These must pass their safety check and obtain their CIS by 2019. In a second wave, buildings already holding a certificate of integrity, but one which dates back over 50 years, must be re-inspected and certified by 2024.

The new guidelines set out which aspects such as modifications to the original structure, cracks, settling or infiltration of damp need to be addressed in the first overall inspection. If any of these factors raise an alarm, a detailed check-list will guide civil engineers carrying out a more thorough evaluation.

Welcoming the move, MP Ermete Realacci, president of the parliamentary environment commission, said the guidelines introduced by Milan as the first municipality in Italy put the city in the forefront of urban requalification and safety. He suggested that the cost of inspections might be classified as a tax-deductable expense.