Paying your monthly rent to your landlord in Italy in cash is not necessarily illegal, but it can create difficulties for everyone involved. This is especially true if the landlord/homeowner doesn’t declare the income they make from those rental payments to the tax authorities, or doesn’t officially register the lease agreement, in which case even you as the tenant may be at risk of facing legal action.
Failure to register the rental agreement
Any rental contract that is not registered with the Italian tax office ‘Agenzia delle Entrate’ is void and not legally binding, but the liability for payment of the registration tax is joint and several. Joint and several liability in this case means that both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for ensuring these taxes are paid. The tenant would therefore share guilt for any tax evasion and can face fines (or worse!) from the Inland Revenue.
The landlord has 30 days to start registering the contract from the moment it is signed and, as recently ruled by the Supreme Court in Italy, late registration can lead to the contract being null and void. However, if the landlord does not carry out this registration process, the tenant can do so themselves.
The landlord claims you pay less than you actually do
If the rental contract has been registered properly but the amount of rent indicated is actually lower what you really pay, you as the tenant may limit yourself to paying only the rent written in the contract. You will be well within your right and not at risk of being evicted or taken to court. By law, in fact, only the rent resulting from the registered contract is valid. Anything you paid over and on top of this in the past, you can ask for it back within 6 months from the moment when you leave the apartment.
A contract requiring you to pay cash in hand is void
Paying rent under the table in Italy automatically means that the contract is null and void. This means that the tenant is not required to comply with any of the other clauses in the private contract, so they cannot be sanctioned for not paying the rent, don’t have to give any notice before leaving the property and cannot be evicted at the end of the contract.
All this goes to show that landlords in Italy should never ask their tenants to pay them in cash and should always do everything by the book, or risk legal or financial punishments.
From the original Italian article: Se il padrone di casa non dichiara l’affitto, che rischi? (La legge per tutti)