Real Estate Agency Fees: Am I Obligated to Pay if My Husband Buys Sometime After The Visit? 


In the world of real estate transactions, the issue of agency fees (provvigione) has recently come under scrutiny, particularly in a case involving Tizia, Caia, and Zed Company. In this article, we’ll delve into the legal principles surrounding the recognition of a mediator’s right to commission and explore a recent court decision that sheds light on the matter.

Legal Context and Implications

The crux of the matter lies in the recognition of a mediator’s entitlement to a commission without a direct and exclusive causal link between their activities and the finalization of a real estate deal. The legal principle of “causal adequacy” dictates that it’s sufficient for the mediator to have facilitated communication between the parties, establishing the essential groundwork for the contract’s conclusion.

According to a recent ruling by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation (January 22, 2024), the judge must not only verify the mediator’s role in bringing parties together but also assess the adequacy of their causal contribution to affirm that the deal’s conclusion is a direct result of the mediator’s intervention.

The right to commission arises whenever the conclusion of the deal is causally linked to the intermediary’s activities, irrespective of their involvement in various negotiation stages leading up to the contract’s signing. This principle holds as long as the mediator’s intervention is deemed indispensable for the deal to materialize, following the doctrine of causal adequacy.

The Case: Are Agency Fees Due?

In October 2007, Tizia entered into a mediation contract with Zed Company regarding the lease of a property at a monthly rent of €3,960, with a preference for foreign tenants. Subsequently, Caia proposed a lease in February 2008, offering €3,600, along with an agreement to pay agency fees. However, this proposal was rejected.

After the expiration of the mandate, Caia’s husband, Mevio, concluded the contract with Tizia, establishing his residence on the property. Zed Company filed a lawsuit against Tizia and Caia, initially in front of the Court and later, due to jurisdictional issues, before the Court of Rome, seeking payment of the commission.

Legal Proceedings

Tizia contested the claim, asserting her lack of liability and, in a counterclaim, sought a declaration of the nullity of the clause obligating her to pay the agency fees even if the property was leased after the mandate’s expiration, involving related parties. The Court of  Rome ruled in favor of Zed Company, ordering Tizia and Caia to pay the commission.

Caia appealed the decision, arguing that there was no proof of a causal relationship between the mediator’s activity and the deal’s conclusion. The Rome Tribunal, in its 2016 judgment (No. 16658), sided with Caia, stating that Zed Company was not entitled to any commission.

Appeal At the Supreme Court and Final Decision

Zed Company filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Rome Tribunal’s decision, based on two main points. 

  1. They argued that Caia had visited the property with her husband, proposed a lease, and, after the mandate’s expiration, her spouse concluded the lease, forming a crucial causal link. 
  2. Zed Company contended that the Tribunal made a mistake in assessing the burden of proof regarding the causal relationship between the mediator’s activity and the deal’s conclusion.

The Court of Cassation, in its ruling (No. 785, January 9, 2024), upheld the appeal, emphasizing the importance of the mediator’s role and the causal adequacy principle. It annulled the Rome Tribunal’s decision and remanded the case for a new examination in line with the established legal principles.


This case underscores the significance of recognizing a mediator’s entitlement to a commission (agency fees), emphasizing the need for a causal link between their activities and the deal’s conclusion. The Court of Cassation’s decision provides clarity on the legal principles governing such disputes, ensuring a fair assessment of the mediator’s role in real estate transactions. Understanding these principles is crucial for both mediators and parties involved in real estate dealings to navigate potential legal challenges effectively.

To ensure a seamless and safe property purchase in Italy, obtaining reliable legal assistance is essential.