Rental Contracts

Understand what to expect from the rental contract for property in Italy...

New rental regulations were introduced in 1999, since when there have been two kinds of rental contract:

  • A free market contract: contratto a libero mercato
  • A convention contract: contratto convenzionati (contains pre-determined conditions)

A free market contract is for four years renewable for an additional four-year period, in which the tenant and landlord agree the conditions between themselves.

A convention contract is a three-year contract with a two-year renewal option, although the initial period can be increased to five years with no renewal option.

These new contracts replace the old rent control equo canone and long term patti in deroga contracts, although these contracts remain valid until their expiry date, when they're replaced by one of the new contracts.

Luxury apartments (di lusso), public housing and tourist apartments are exempt from free market contracts.

If applicable, a "tenants and owners" association must usually approve contracts for apartments. A contract should be registered with the local ufficio del registro to be valid. Registration fees are 2 percent of annual rent plus government stamps (bolli). Furnished properties registrations fees are around 3 percent of annual rent. These fees are normally divided between the landlord and the tenant.

If a landlord needs to reclaim a property before the expiration of the free market contract he can do so, by giving the tenant six months notice (disdetta) in writing, but only under certain conditions. These include requiring the property for his own use, for a child who's getting married, for an elderly parent or in-law, or to make improvements or repairs prior to selling it. However, if within a year the property isn't used for the purpose stated on the notification, the landlord must renew the original rental contract with the same tenant or pay an amount equal to three years rent as compensation.

Otherwise, a landlord can reclaim a property only by giving a tenant six months notice prior to the end of the contract expiry date. If a landlord wishes to sell the property, a tenant has the first option to buy it.

A convention contract includes properties rented under national agreements between property associations and renters' unions, who establish the rent. It's possible to terminate the contract prior to the first expiration date, while the landlord must give a tenant six months notice prior to the first expiration date. A convention contract can also include short-term leases for students and transitory workers.

The new regulations provide tax breaks for landlords and also establish a national fund to help low income families who are eligible for public housing, but because of a lack of public housing are required to rent apartments on the open market.

Although all addresses are potentially suitable for residence, some rental contracts forbid you to use an apartment's address for this purpose. Such rental contracts are mainly used with foreigners, so that a landlord can regain possession of his property more easily should he wish to do so. Eviction of a person from their legal residence is almost impossible in Italy and landlords don't want to take any unnecessary risks with foreigners.

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