Letting property in Italy: what a landlord should do to protect their property

How to get reliable tenants who follow rental laws in Italy / Gtres
How to get reliable tenants who follow rental laws in Italy / Gtres
29 November 2018, Redaction

To avoid headaches in the future, it’s essential for a homeowner to choose carefully who they rent their apartment to and how they manage compliance with the rental contract. Our collaborators at condominioweb suggest some rules to follow to find a reliable tenant and what to do if things go sour:

  • Take photos of the furniture: If the apartment is furnished, the owner should photograph the furniture and other objects in the house and get the tenant to sign these photographs. It should be made very clear that it is the tenant's responsibility to make repairs in the event of damage and to take care of the maintenance of electrical appliances, whereas the replacement of these item is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • Take action against damages: If serious damage caused by the tenant affects the habitability of the apartment, the owner can request the termination of the contract, retaining the security deposit as compensation, as included in the contract under Italian Law 392/78.
  • Get a bank guarantee: A further type of surety may be if the landlord requests some form of bank collateral, which is now increasingly common in rental contracts and provides extra protection against the difficulty of evicting tenants if needs be.
  • Make the contract ironclad: The need to make the rental agreement extremely specific and not leave any loopholes derives from the fact that the time needed to resolve contractual disputes is always very long, even when the legislation provides for simplified procedures, as in the case of non-payment of rents and ancillary charges such as communal building fees.
  • Let animals in the property: Technically and legally, a homeowner cannot stop their tenant from having a pet. In the last paragraph of Article 1138 of the Italian Civil Code, there is a clause which states that "the rules of the regulation may not prohibit the keeping of pets". However, they can request in the lease that pets not be kept on the property, and if the renter signs it will be legally binding.
  • Get to know who the tenant really is: It’s not uncommon for a leasing contract to be made out in the name of sublessors, i.e. to lenders who can actually use the apartment and then sublet it to third parties for profit. A landlord should always try to find out who is really living in their property and make a binding contract for each tenant.
  • Involve the building administrator: If the property is a flat located in a condominium complex, it is good practice to warn the manager of the apartment block that it has been leased.
  • Pay the taxes on rentals: For long-term rentals in Italy, properties are subject to taxation. The owner can choose to tax the amount collected according to the Personal Income Tax rules, thus subjecting it to additional regional and municipal taxes, or according to the flat rate tax scheme, or cedolare secca.

It should be noted that despite renting the property, the owner is still the main recipient of the clauses of the regulation and, consequently, they will be responsible for direct violations of the same rules by the tenant of the property.

In the latter case, it will be the owner's responsibility to impose on the tenant the prohibitions and sanctions provided for in the regulations, through the usual instruments of contract law, or to take preventative action to avoid non-compliance of the contract by the tenant. If necessary, this can happen through the termination of the lease agreement.

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