An Overview to Renting in Italy

Damien O'Farrell
4 min readJul 22, 2021

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In Italy, there are generally two types of residential contracts, with the first type being free market contracts. This is based on an agreement between the owner and the tenant. This contract lasts for four years, and if the tenant does not cancel the contract, it will automatically renew for another four years (commonly known as a 4+4). With this type of contract, the landlord can legally ask for six months’ notice, so it is particularly important to negotiate a diplomatic clause of three months’ notice before signing the contract.

The second type of contract is a mutually agreed-upon contract, whereby there are far more flexible terms for specific scenarios and types of people. This type of contract allows for residential use that normally has a duration of 3+2 years and can be extended to 4+2 and even longer, if necessary. There is also a transitory contract, which can last from one month to eighteen months but cannot be extended. This type of contract is especially useful in the case that someone will only be living for a fixed period in the city in question, e.g., for a temporary work contract. There is also a contract to cover student rentals, and these can last for between six and thirty-six months. Normally, these can be applied in cities that have a university and in the surrounding areas.

Renting in Italy is quite different from other markets, and I have had many clients shocked to learn that basically the tenant is responsible for most things in the property, with only major items falling under the responsibility of the landlord. I always explain this very thoroughly before the check-in, so as to avoid unpleasant discussions during the tenancy, and at the checkout.

It is always advisable to work with licensed realtors in Italy and to avoid “middlemen,” who may not know or understand the intricacies of renting a property in Italy. If you decide to go it alone, make sure that you get a copy of proof of ownership in advance so that you can make sure that the person you are paying rent to is the actual owner and not a person who is renting the property without the knowledge of the owner. Do not rent any property in Italy without a properly registered contract; this is very unwise and may lead to many issues further down the road.

If you pay a deposit, make sure to ask the landlord for a separate receipt, as you are entitled to get your deposit back with bank interest for the period in which the landlord held on to it. If there are justifiable dilapidations, you may only get back a part of your deposit, or nothing at all, depending on how much damage you caused as a tenant. It is highly advisable to make all payments through a bank transfer or by check; avoid paying cash, and if you do, make sure you get an official receipt for the amount.

Make sure to check your lease contract to see if there is an ISTAT clause — essentially, this gives the landlord the right to raise the rent each year in accordance with the cost-of-living index.

As the tenant, besides the regular utilities, you will also be responsible for the condominium charges that cover the costs of the communal areas and will cover things such as shared lighting, elevator costs, and administration expenses. Make sure that you find out what the condominium charges are before renting, as they can vary greatly from one property to another.

The maintenance of the property in Italy is quite different from other markets; therefore, you, as the tenant, must cover the cost of repairs and maintenance, for example, of the hot water system and the boiler. Please make sure that you inform yourself of these responsibilities before moving in.

Before moving in, make sure that you carry out a thorough check-in list with photos and/or video. If the property was given to you freshly painted, and if the contract calls for it, you must hand the property back also freshly painted.

Make sure that you cancel the contract properly if you need to leave early. The cancellation letter should be sent by registered mail with a return receipt. Do not inform the landlord by text, WhatsApp, telephone, or email.

If you are working with a realtor or a Destination Service Provider, it is always good to get an English synopsis of the lease, so that you know what you are signing.

This is just a general overview, if you would like information on my home search programs in Italy, please feel free to contact me www.damienofarrell.com

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Damien O'Farrell

Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach with thirty plus years’ experience in providing high-touch immigration, relocation, & coaching services in Italy.