I am of the opinion that not matter where you live in the world renting has the potential to be a serious pain. As a renter, you put a decent amount of trust in the real estate agents and property owners to be honest and to a certain degree reliable. I have rarely found this to be the case. Though, I do acknowledge that for many property owners and managers it can be just as challenging. I consider myself and my husband to be good tenants that will follow the rules and work on keeping the property in good order. For the most part I have found rental agents and owners to be less than honest and often difficult to work with. They are often people that care more about their profit than ensuring they have long term renters. Italy in particular has a reputation for having some of the most unreliable and dishonest landlords in Europe. So, Here I wanted to share some tips on renting in Italy for anyone looking to move here.
My Top Tips for Renting in Italy
Italian landlords are well known for taking advantage of foreigners. The law in Italy is a bit different to many other countries and it is also outdated in many ways. This makes it hard for people to navigate and get it right. Many landlords know this and purposely keep information back in order to keep your deposit or force you to fix damages you did not cause. Mind you, our current landlady is great and we have not had any issues. They are not all terrible people but many of them are.
- Get a security deposit insurance plan if possible. Landlords have a reputation for holding back deposits and forcing renters into a situation where they cannot get it back. If you are going to pay deposit, know that it is typically 3 months of your total rent. It is not allowed to exceed that amount. This amount does not include other payments that will be required such as condominium fees. When do you do pay the deposit, pay it via a bank transfer and keep digital and print copies of everything that you have paid for. Make sure you are detailed as possible with the payment reference as well. Essentially take note of every little thing and keep a log of your payment activities.
- Have the contract proposal and the contract checked by a lawyer before signing. This is an extra cost but it may be a valuable one in the end. Because of the way rental contracts are written out, the contract may show a lower amount for your yearly rental and a higher amount for condominium fees. This is a fraud alert and evidence that the landlord and/or real estate agent are not trustworthy people. Contact a property lawyer who will be able to have a look at the documents and explain each clause to you. Also take note that residential contracts, as in a contract that allows you to register your residency, is a 4+4 type contract. Meaning you have 4 years in the first half of the contract and if neither part terminates then it is automatically renewed for another 4 years.
- You have to pay the rental agent as well. Rental agents typically take about 10% of the total yearly rental amount as there fee. They get paid by the landlord and renter. I have difficulty with this as from my perspective, it the agents job to find renters for the landlord but it is how things are done in Italy. Expect to have that fee plus VAT on top of your payment. VAT is 22% in Italy. Many quoted amount will be without VAT so be sure check that in the quote or ask them directly.
- Insist on an inspection and check list when entering the property. Some agents and landlords will dismiss this step as an effort to be able to claim damages and not pay out the deposit at the end of your stay. Insist that an inspection is done. Make your own list as well. Take photos of everything, I mean everything. Especially damaged areas. Then do a video walk through of the property as well. Label each photo as the item as been listed on the list. Once you have all of your evidence ask the agent and landlord to sign the list and send them photos via email. Insist that they acknowledge the receiving the photos and the listed items in writing. Add this to your files digitally and printed.
- Get everything in writing. No matter what you are requesting make sure you get confirmation in writing. Especially approvals for changes and requests for fixing items in the apartment or house. You want to have everything in email and ensure that they answer in emails. If the agent or landlord calls you should tell them that you want to keep communication via email so that there is record of all communication. Though text can be used as well, you will be better off with email. Even if a change or fix is approved, the landlord might claim damages at the end of the contract. Having evidence of the approval will make it much harder for them to prove that you did anything without their knowledge.
- Termination is tricky. When you decide to leave you will have to inform the agent and/or landlord a minimum of 6 months before you vacate the apartment. A 6 month notice period is by law in Italy and cannot be violated unless both parties sign an agreement stating that they both acknowledge and accept it. Now the other side is how to terminate. You will need to send your termination letter via registered post. Send it so that the receiver is required to sign for the document and ask them to send it back via registered post signed. Also have them acknowledge and accept your notice in an email. A landlord can claim damages to income and keep your deposit if you have not sent it via registered post. This is very important. In fact, if possible, have everything that requires signing sent via registered post.
- Leaving the property must be witnessed. Make sure you have a friend or colleague with you during the final inspection of the property. Have your inspection list with you and have a document stating that the property is in good order and that you have handed over the keys. Ensure that the agent and/or landlord sign this paper before you hand over the keys. This document will make it harder for them to try and claim damages and hold back your deposit. Having a witness will also enhance your claim that the property was in good order when you left it. As an extra precaution, I would suggest taking photos as well.
- If you are renting with pets, get confirmation in writing. Though it is usually not a problem in Italy to have pets it is still a good idea to get confirmation that pets are allowed. I always ask for written confirmation that cats specifically are allowed. If at all possible, ask them to add it into the contract as well.
Rights as A Tenant
As a tenant in Italy, you have certain rights and protections under the law. Here are some common ones:
Security deposit: The landlord is required to provide a written receipt for any security deposit paid by the tenant. The deposit cannot be more than three months’ rent, and it must be returned to the tenant at the end of the lease, minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent.
Rent increases: The landlord can only increase the rent once per year, and the increase must be based on the national inflation rate.
Repairs and maintenance: The landlord is responsible for maintaining the apartment and making any necessary repairs. If the tenant reports a problem, the landlord must fix it within a reasonable amount of time.
Termination of lease: The tenant has the right to terminate the lease early if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs or if the apartment becomes uninhabitable. The landlord can terminate the lease if the tenant fails to pay rent or violates the terms of the lease.
Privacy: The landlord cannot enter the apartment without the tenant’s permission, except in cases of emergency.
Subletting: The tenant can sublet the apartment with the landlord’s permission, but the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent.
Discrimination: Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
It is important to note that these rights and protections may vary depending on the specific terms of your lease agreement and the local laws in your area. It is always a good idea to consult with a legal professional if you have questions or concerns about your rights as a tenant in Italy.
Resources and Organisations
There are several resources and organizations that can provide information and support for tenants in Italy. Here are some of them:
A.N.A.A.F. (Associazione Nazionale degli Agenti e degli Amministratori di Fiducia): This is a national association of real estate agents and administrators of trust. They provide information on rental laws and regulations in Italy.
Cittadinanzattiva: This is a consumer advocacy group that provides information and support for tenants. They have a housing rights section on their website that provides information on tenant rights and legal resources.
Confedilizia: This is a national association of Italian landlords and property owners. They provide information on rental laws and regulations and can help landlords and tenants resolve disputes.
A.T.I. (Associazione inquilini e conduttori): This is a national association of tenants and renters. They provide information on tenant rights and can help tenants resolve disputes with landlords.
Local tenant associations: Many cities and regions in Italy have tenant associations that can provide information and support for renters. These organizations may also offer legal services and advocacy for tenants.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a legal professional if you have questions or concerns about your rights as a tenant in Italy. They can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your specific situation. Just keep in mind that lawyers’ fees are quite high in Italy. Be mindful of when you need to use them and be specific about your needs.