Once you've decided to move to Italy, you'll have to find a place to rent in Italy. But as someone new to the country, you might be asking yourself, "what should I look for in the rental contract? What are my rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Italy?"
Getting to know your tenant rights is so important avoid costly mistakes and prevent landlords from taking advantage of you when you're renting abroad. To help you get a general overview of your rights and obligations, we've compiled a list of need-to-know information around renting in Italy. Let’s dive right into it!
Italian rental laws are generally in the favour of tenants. That said, as a tenant, you still have responsibilities that you shouldn’t neglect.
Here’s a list of rights and responsibilities you can expect as a tenant in Italy. Let’s start with your rights.
In Italy, tenants have the right to:
Live in a property that is in good condition. This means that there cannot be any significant defects that drastically impact the agreed use. As a non-commercial tenant, that means the property is suitable to live in. This means proper access to water, electricity and meeting any necessary safety standards.
Live in a building that is well maintained. The landlord has to take care of any major ‘extraordinary’ maintenance that is required to keep suitable for its purpose: i.e. you living in it without major issues. This includes, for example, high-level maintenance to the integrity of the home’s electricity and plumbing systems, but not ordinary maintenance for minor issues like a drain blockage or changing lightbulbs.
Live in the building peacefully. For the duration of the rental contract, the landlord cannot disturb the tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises. For example, this means the landlord needs the tenant’s permission to enter the home. An obvious exception to this rule is if there is a serious emergency, like fire or flooding.
Have access to all necessary documentation. Such as receipts of rental payments, evidence of expenses incurred during the upkeep of the property, necessary safety certifications and the energy certificate. It’s also the landlord’s responsibility to properly register your tenancy with the municipality.
Veto any disruptive changes by the landlord. If the changes limit your ability to use the property as intended, you have the right to block them. In the case of extensive repairs, you’re required to allow the landlord access, but you’re entitled to a reduction in rent if the repairs take up more than 20 days. If you run into this situation, professional legal advice is recommended.
Make improvements to the property at your own expense. So, you’re free to paint, decorate or even change the flooring, as long as it doesn’t damage the property. The rule of thumb here is that you need to be able to remove or revert them at the end of your tenancy. Regardless, do let the landlord know if you intend to make major changes before you do so. Good communication between you and your landlord is key to a happy tenancy!
Terminate the lease under certain circumstances. The most important reasons include the bankruptcy of the landlord (as this means they can no longer fulfil their obligations mentioned above) and changes of ownership. This could mean the property is sold but also includes inheritance after the death of the landlord. That said, you can terminate early, but you’re not required to.
Your rights as a tenant are offset by your responsibilities, which are just as important.
You’re obliged to:
Take responsibility for the property. During the tenancy, this means paying your rent in full within the agreed timeframe, observe due diligence in your use of the home and cooperating with the landlord in the case of necessary repairs or maintenance. Aside from rent, it also means you’re also expected to pay for the fees incurred for utilities and service contributions to any applicable communal spaces (e.g. elevator maintenance, lobby cleaning, etc).
Safeguard the state of the property. You’re required to perform ordinary maintenance as it’s required and needs to be able to restore the property to as close to its original state as possible. The only exception to this is the wear and tear that can be expected to naturally occur when inhabiting a property for x amount of years.
This means covering up your flashy paint job and removing that new flooring (if you can’t get the landlord or new tenant to buy it from you). You’re also liable for any loss or damage caused to the property if you’re unable to prove that the damage cannot be attributed to the tenant.
Another key element of renting in any country is knowing what kind of rental agreements are available.
Italy has 2 short term rental and 2 long term rental contract options. You’ll find that housing with short term contracts usually come furnished, whereas housing with long term rental contracts are typically unfurnished.
The short term rental contracts are a) for tourism purposed or b) for temporary purposes.
Contract for tourism purpose (contratto per uso turistico) This contract allows you to rent a property for a few days, weeks or months. This limited short-term often holiday purpose is mentioned in the contract explicitly. It also states that you’re not officially taking up residency in the home. All in all, this contract is not very useful for expats looking to stay in Italy permanently.
Contract for temporary purpose (contratto per uso transitorio) This contract allows a tenant to rent a property for a specific purpose and for a limited time. This means that if the tenant is renting the property in order to attend university, the contract will last as long as the student is studying and will require proof of enrollment. It must state the length of the stay.
Typically, these contracts are between 1 and 18 months long but can last up to 36 months depending on the purpose. The contract can be renewed, but not extended. This contract can also be used when you’re working on a temporary contract. So, as long as you’re working for that employer on that contract, you can live in that property. If you graduate or your contract expires, you will have to leave the property. As a tenant, you don’t need to give notice when leaving at the end of the term dictated in the contract.
Free market agreement (4+4 contract) (Contratto di locazione a canone libero) The 4+4 contract is the most common form of rental agreement in Italy. As the name suggests, it’s a 4-year contract, after which you've the option to continue the contract for another 4 years. The landlord gets to determine their own rental price, but will be stuck with the same tenant for up to 8 years!
The tenant has more flexibility as they are able to cancel the contract at any time by giving the landlord 6 months notice by registered mail (lettera raccomandata). Unfortunately, notifying the landlord by email might not hold in court, so make sure you do it by registered mail. Additionally, make sure your contract actually contains an early termination clause, otherwise, you can only cancel after the 4 year period or for serious and proven reasons (i.e. moving abroad, etc).
Contract with an agreed rate (Contratto di locazione a tariffa concordata) Another form of long term contract is a 3 + 2 year contract, with an initial term of 3 years and an option for 2 more years after that. This commitment is a lot shorter, so it means the landlord cannot set their own price. Instead, they need to charge the rental price as pre-approved by tenants and landlord organisation as well as local town authorities.
Why would a landlord do this? Well, the commitment is shorter and the Italian government offers a variety of tax breaks and discounts when they offer this type of contract. Here too, the tenant can cancel at any time as long as you provide a justifiable reason and inform the owner with a registered letter at least 6 months in advance.
Subletting is forbidden under the contracts with an agreed rate but is possible in the other contract types. The only stipulation is that you don’t rent out the property in its entirety. So, if you’re renting a 3 bedroom apartment, you’re free to sublet 2 of the rooms. Do make sure you discuss the situation with your landlord in advance and make sure that the terms of the subletting are on paper as well. Especially because you‘re liable for any damages these subtenants cause.
So, here you go! An overview of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Italy. Now you can focus on finding the best place to live in Italy. Happy renting!
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