Renting a residential property in Italy

Sep 24, 2021

How long can the contract be for?

The average Italian lease contract is either 4+4 (four years with the option to renew for another four) or 3+2 (three years with the option to renew for another two).

But, under certain conditions (eg, the Tenant declares to have a temporary need, for example for a short assignment or for attending a 1-year course) contracts for shorter periods can be stipulated.

In any event, Tenants:

  • are entitled by the Law, to terminate the contract with a 6 month advance notice if they have “serious and grounded reasons”;
  • but the parties can agree upon (it must be explictly set forth in the contract) an earlier termination clause at Tenant’s will (eg even without serious reasons), with a to-be-agreed advance notice. A clause that can be used is:

“The Tenant shall be entitled to terminate the contract at any time even without cause, by giving the Landlord a __ month advance written notice”

What shall you ask the Landlord?

  1. It is always advisable to ask the landlord for proof of ownership (visura catastale) to make sure the signatory of the lease has the right to execute the contract.
  2. To be 100% compliant, any lease agreement must be filed with the Registry Office (Ufficio del Registro) and there is charge of approx. € 120 payable annually (usally shared 50/50). If you need to apply for residency at the Comune, this is a mandatory requirement;
  3. Ask the landlord to confirm (and include a covenant in the contract) that all utilites (electic lines, gas, heating system) are compliant. If the apartment has its separate heating system, for example, it must mandatorily be checked and certified at least once a year;
  4. Set forth clearly in the contract whether the apartment must be repainted at the end of the lease and who shall bear the costs.

The rent

(i) The standard deposit, payable upon signing the contract, is equal to 2-3 months rent but this is negotiable. This only covers damage and not unpaid rent;

(ii) The deposit should be refunded by the Landlord within a reasonable time after termination, after checking whether there is any damage. It is always advisable to indicate in the contract a specific term (15–30 days) within which the deposit is to be refunded;

(iii) Customarily, the annual rent is increased every year by the inflation index calculated by Government Office (ISTAT);

(iv) There are often controversies at the end of the contract for the return of the deposit because landlords try to retain all or part of the deposit alleging damages. Accordingly, it would be preferable to offer a bank or insurance guarantee instead of paying a cash deposit.

Termination

The tenant is entitled by law to terminate the contract at any time with a 6-month advance notice but only when serious grounds exist (to be proven by the tenant, such as the sudden repatriation of the individual for work reasons or grounded personal reasons).

Landlords, however, often oppose this request and therefore it is always advisable to include in the contract a specific clause that empowers the tenant to an earlier termination also in the absence of serious reasons.

On the expiry of the contract, the property must be returned to the owner in the same conditions, without prejudice to normal wear and tear. It is advisable to take photographs of the interior of the property before taking up occupation and exchange them with the landlord, to avoid any controversies at the end of the rent.

Many landlords hold the tenant responsible for repainting the interior of the property at the end of the lease alleging that this is not to be considered normal wear and tear. Therefore, the repaint clause, if included, must be carefully evaluated and the tenant should make sure that a complete repainting is not requested.

Realtor’s commission

Realtors’ commission is normally one or two months’ rent or 10–20% of the annual rent but can be negotiated. make sure to:

  • appoint a duly licensed Realtor. You can check if the realtor is duly licensed in the Government website www.registroimprese.it
  • if the Realtor is not licensed, he/she is not entiled to any commission and should refund to the client any sums paid
  • stipulate in writing the terms and conditions of its appointment, payment terms of the commission and charges payable in case you wish to terminate the appointment even if the broker has not concluded its search.

Tenant’s duties

The tenant is responsible for:

(a) paying water, gas and energy bills (to avoid disputes upon the termination of the contract, it is advisable to make sure that the relevant contracts are stipulated with the tenant);

(b) paying for all service charges pertaining to the property such as central heating, lift maintenance, stair cleaning, ordinary maintenance of the courtyard and garden, cold water from central systems;

(c) paying for any costs for the administration of the apartment building and waste tax. To assess the amount of such charges, it is advisable to request a copy of the previous year’s bill from the landlord.

(d) for costs pertaining to repairs to the sanitary fittings, electrical system, plumbing, gas and hot water systems, including annual emissions check on the boiler.

and the Landlord?

Extraordinary expenses

The landlord is responsible for all extraordinary expenses, such as:

  • the maintenance and repair of the roof,
  • repainting of the building
  • costs for maintenance of equipments such as the lift, the central heating

Read carefully the contract because this provision can be derogated by the parties and there could be situations where the Landlord ask the Tenant to bear some additional costs.

The standard clause that should be included in the contract is:

As per art. 1576 Civil Code, the Landlord shall be responsible for all costs relative to necessary maintenance and repairs save for the costs of ordinary maintenance that shall be borne by the Tenant.

Termination

The landlord is not allowed to terminate the agreement before its expiry date, even if the agreement itself provides for this (such a clause would be null and void).

The first renewal of the lease is mandatory for the landlord and not for the tenant. In other words, the landlord can send the letter of termination, with six months’ notice, but must wait until the second expiry date of the contract (8 or 5 years) before it can take effect.

However, in exceptional cases (such as the need to use the property for personal use or sale of the property to a third party) provided by law, the landlord is allowed to terminate the lease on the first expiry date by sending a six months’ notice.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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