Understand what to expect when renting an apartment in Italy...

In addition to rent, tenants in an apartment must have compulsory insurance and pay service charges.

There will also be a set of house rules and regulations (regolamento), of which tenants should obtain a copy. Service charges (spese) usually include such things as heating, hot water, rubbish removal, upkeep of grounds and gardens, use of lift, communal lighting and maintenance, and possibly a caretaker service.

Tenants usually pay other utilities such as gas, electricity and water separately. Always check whether rent is inclusive or exclusive of charges, which is usually stated in advertisements. Service charges are calculated monthly (payable with the rent) and are usually higher in a new building than an old one. They can vary considerably from as little as €20 to €200 per month. Ask to see a copy of the bills from the previous year.

On signing a lease, a new tenant should also ask to see the bills for the telephone and utilities (electricity, gas and water) and check that the previous tenant has paid the bills up to date otherwise the incoming person could be liable for any debts.

Extract adapted from Living and Working in Italy (2nd Edition) Edited by Graeme Chesters Published by Survival Books Ltd, Survival Books, P.O. Box 3780,Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 5WX, United Kingdom. Tel/Fax: (+44) 01935-700060 Copyright © 2005 Survival Books Ltd All Rights Reserved