Welcome to our second instalment of Moving to Italy! Throughout this series we will discuss the process and paperwork necessary to reside in Italy legally as well as some helpful tips for moving with a pet, finding housing and other insights we learned along the way.
Once you have the initial visa paperwork figured out (see our post about the visa process here) you will have to find a place to stay. Not only it is required that you have a place to live for the visa but you will also need it to apply for the permit to stay (Permesso di Soggiorno). The rules on living arrangements are a bit complicated. If you are staying with a friend or family member they will have to write a letter stating such. However, if you looking for an apartment rental there are a few things to consider:
1. The size of the space. The government requires that you have a certain amount of space per person. For example, if there are two of you, you must have minimum of 38 square meters. More information can be found here.
2. A legal contract. In many places, landlords are willing to rent apartments without a formal agreement because it saves them money. However, you will be required to register a rental contract in order to claim residency in Italy, therefore you should insist on a formal agreement. It also helps protects you should any problems arise!
There are many useful sites to help find available apartments (our favorites listed below). When renting an apartment in Italy, you must be prepared to pay 2-3 months deposit + the first month rent. In addition if you use an agency, you will like have to pay an extra fee to secure the apartment (usually about 10% of the annual rent). If you want to try and find an apartment for rental by owner, it is best to walk around the neighborhood(s) you are interested in and look for "Affittasi" signs usually with handwritten information and a contact number for the apartment owner.
Easy Stanza (if you are just looking for a room)
Subito (best for finding owner listed rentals)
It is really important that you see or send someone to see an apartment before you sign a lease. Pictures can be very deceiving...many building in Italy are old and if they haven't been well maintained can cause a slew of problems! If you cannot see a place before you move, it is best to use a website like Spotahome.com that sends experts in to videotape the apartment and provides a guarantee should there be issues when you arrive.
Rental contracts vary from temporary (3 months to a year) to a standard lease of 3+2 or 4+4. This means the initial lease is for 3 or 4 years with the option to renew for 2 or 4 years. A few important things to note on the rental contract:
1. Notice period - if you opt for a standard lease, it is recommended that you negotiate a 3 month notice period in case you need to move. The standard lease will indicate a 6 month notice period but many owners are willing to decrease this.
2. The condition of the apartment - at the end of the lease you will have to return the apartment in the condition you received it. It is important to document the condition when you move in and note anything that is broken or damaged so you aren't responsible for it. This is especially important of furnished rentals!
3. Who is responsible for the bills - for a temporary lease the owner may keep the utilities in their name and either build the cost into the rent or send you a bill every few months. For longer rentals, you will be responsible for changing the utilities to your name and paying the bills directly.
NOTE: Make sure you turn on the utilities BEFORE you move in (the owner should provide you the name and account information for each utility company). Between tenants they are switched off. In Italy it can take a week to activate everything so you don't want to be without electricity or hot water.
Okay so you have found an apartment, signed the lease and have moved in (hopefully without any problems!). In the first week, make note of anything that isn't working and ask the landlord to fix it. Throughout the lease the landlord is responsible for repairing/replacing an large appliances that break, however the tenant is responsible for any small repairs after the initial move in period.
Additionally, most landlords don't carry house insurance and any damage done to the property by fire, theft, flood etc. is the tenant's responsibility. Although not necessary, it recommended you secure some sort of rental insurance. Zurich and Allianz both provide policies in Italy.
If you have any questions related to finding an apartment in Italy, don't hesitate to comment below and we will try to answer them. Happy house hunting!