For members


Renting in Italy: the crucial vocabulary you need to know

One of the first tasks awaiting any new arrival in Italy is one of the most stressful: finding somewhere to live. Here's some vocabulary to help you out during the house-hunt.

Renting in Italy: the crucial vocabulary you need to know
A 'For rent' sign in Italy. Photo: Steve McNicholas/Flickr

The basics

First, think about your budget and needs. Are you searching for an apartment (appartamento), room in a shared apartment (una camera), or an entire house (casa)?

Secondly, how long do you need it for? The process is quite different for a student looking for a place to live just for one semester compared to someone hoping to stay longer-term, and there are two basic kinds of contract. Long-term contracts are called 'contratti di libero mercato' (free market contracts), and typically last four years with the possibility to renew for a further four. You'll also see them written as '4+4'.

There's also another kind called 'contratti concertati' (mutually agreed contracts) which can be used for three years as a residential contract (uso abitativo) and can usually be extended beyond that. This category also covers temporary use (uso transitorio) which is fixed at a set period of one to eighteen months. In student areas, this also includes student rentals (uso studenti universitari), for between six and 36 months. 

READ ALSO: Ten things to expect when renting an apartment in Italy

Buildings in central Rome. Photo: Ludwig Thalheimer/Unsplash

The landlord is known as 'il/la locatore' in official language such as contracts, and 'il/la proprietario/a' in everyday speech, while the equivalent terms for tenants are 'il/la conduttore' or 'il/la locatorio/a' (in formal contexts) and 'il/la affittuario/a' (informal).

You might rent directly from the landlord if you respond to adverts online or in newspapers, or you could choose to go through a letting agent (agente immobiliare). Even while searching online, you'll see that some apartments are listed as being rented privately (privato) while others are through an agency (agenzia).

Details about the housing

The term for a studio is 'un monolocale', while 'un bilocale' is a two-room apartment, 'un trilocale' has three rooms and 'un quadrilocale' four.

Sounds simple enough? Be aware that exactly what counts as a ‘room’ might differ from place to place, so one trilocale may have two bedrooms and a living room, while another might include the kitchen in the calculation. You'll also see descriptions explaining exactly how many rooms (locali or vani) the place has, but again, check the floorplan (la pianta del piano) to see what's included, whether it's open-plan, and so on.

If you're hoping to live with flatmates (coinquilini), make sure to know the difference between una camera da letto (a single bedroom) and un posto da letto (one bed in a shared room).

READ ALSO: House-hunting in Italy: the essential vocabulary you'll need

Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Next, find out if the place is furnished (arredato) or not. If it's described as 'non-arredato', or doesn't specify, look for details about just how unfurnished it is — are any kitchen appliances or light fittings included, for example?

And speaking of the kitchen, note the difference between a cucinotto/angolo cottura (kitchenette, though the former is more separated from the other rooms), una cucina (which may be a large kitchen but may also be too small to sit down and eat) and una cucina abitabile (a kitchen big enough to fit a table inside).

Other things you might have on your wish-list include un ascensore (lift), un balcone (a balcony), una lavastoviglie (dishwasher), un box/garage (garage), una lavatrice (washing machine — bear in mind that these are still not as ubiquitous as in many countries), and un giardino (garden).


Renters in Italy should be on high alert for truffe (scams). 

To avoid these, ask to see proof that the person offering to rent to you actually owns the house, and therefore is legally allowed to rent it. You can ask them to show you their visura catastale (property deed), and check the contract thoroughly as well as visiting the apartment and ensuring that it matches up to the description.

Try to avoid paying your rent or deposit in contanti (in cash), and never pay before signing the contract and ideally getting le chiavi (the keys). 

The Italian Interior Ministry has an English language guide outlining the proper process legitimate landlords will go through, which you can find here. And if you have any doubts, don't take the risk.

READ ALSO: Are people still planning to move to Italy after the coronavirus crisis?

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Money matters

There are two key points here: make sure you have a contract (un contratto) and that you actually read it. You can also ask if the amount is 'trattabile' (negotiable), as this is sometimes the case.

The basic cost you're dealing with is the monthly rent (il canone), but what does it actually include? Check for le utenze (utilities), riscaldamento (heating), spese condominiali (extra service charges), which can vary significantly depending on the area and type of building.

You'll also likely have to pay two extra lump sums when you first sign the contract: a deposit (una cauzione or una caparra) which is typically between one and three months' rent, and an agency fee if you've used one. Make sure to find out the terms and conditions attached to getting your deposit back at the end of the rental period.

Once you're happy with everything, the only thing left to do is sign (firmare) and prepare for the move (il trasloco)!


Member comments

  1. I am very interested in renting an apartment in the Puglia area short term.I would very much like to improve my Italian.Could somebody recommend a coastal small town without too many tourists where Italians live all year round.I would also need access to public

    Mi piacerebbe affitare un appartamento /uso transitorio nell’Apulia con l’intenzione di migliorare il mio italiano.Sono appasionata della lingua e della cultura italiana.Ci ho lasciato un pezzo del mio cuore quando ho visitato la zona tre anni fa.Potrebbe consigliarmi un piccolo borgo sulla costa dove gli italiani vivono tutto l’anno.Avrei anche bisogno dei transporti publici.Grazie mille.

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For members


Reader question: Has Italy’s ‘superbonus 110’ been scrapped?

The Italian government has announced sweeping changes to the country's popular building superbonus scheme, but does this mean funding is no longer available at all? Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: Has Italy's 'superbonus 110' been scrapped?

Question: I’m currently renovating my Italian property and plan to use the ‘superbonus 110’ discount from the Italian government. I’ve read in a UK newspaper that Italy has just scrapped the superbonus. Is this true, and if so can I no longer claim it?

This is partially correct – you’re unlikely to be able to begin a new renovation project using the building ‘superbonus’ now, as Italy’s government has just made a major change to the scheme which makes it inaccessible to most people.

Until last week there were three ways of claiming the funding, but following a hastily-approved amendment on Thursday now there’s only one – via a tax deduction (detrazione fiscale), which is only available to those who pay higher rates of income tax (Irpef). This effectively means the superbonus is now only open to the highest-earning Italian taxpayers.

The first thing to know however is that the rule change does not apply retroactively to projects which are already underway.

EXPLAINED: How Italy has changed its building superbonus – again

So you should be able to continue if you’ve already begun your claim for the superbonus under any of the three routes previously available: trading tax credit (cessione del credito), choosing to receive a discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura), or deduction from future income tax bills (detrazione fiscale). You can read a more detailed explanation of how this works here.

However this will depend on exactly what stage you are at with your claim. A qualified geometra (surveyor) or the building firm overseeing your renovation project should be able to confirm whether and how this could change anything in your situation.

So while the superbonus hasn’t been scrapped entirely, it is now so tightly restricted that new claims will be impossible for most.

Builder carrying out renovation work

After undergoing major changes in early January, Italy’s superbonus has been re-modelled once again. Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

There have already been various other recent changes to and problems with the superbonus scheme which stopped many homeowners from either making new claims or completing existing projects in recent months.

The availability of the superbonus was limited from the end of 2022 when long-planned changes came into effect preventing many people who had previously been eligible from claiming, including second-home owners. The maximum amount of funding available was also cut from 110 percent to 90 percent at this point, effectively turning it into the ‘superbonus 90’

While these generous amounts of state funding understandably drew international media attention, in reality many homeowners in Italy using the superbonus found that the maximum amount of funding was only available in rare cases – usually to those paying the highest rates of tax – and everyone else would be more likely to get a deduction of between 50-70 percent.

Still not a deal to be sniffed at, the superbonus proved immensely popular – so popular in fact that it resulted in a building boom leading to a nationwide shortage of building companies available to carry out the work. This plus a shortage of building supplies, which was further exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, meant the cost of labour and materials soared – making many projects unviable even with the hefty rebates.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s building bonuses are delaying the renovation of cheap homes

These shortages also resulted in major delays to many projects, as did another rule change which made it harder for building companies to obtain the credit they needed to begin work. This blocked credit transfers causing delays to projects and uncertainty which, readers tell us, meant they had to cancel their plans or in some cases has not yet been resolved.

So while it was technically available, many people found themselves unable to actually use the building superbonus in 2022.

But if you already have a claim underway, the latest government rule change looks unlikely to cause any further problems on top of those already faced by homeowners.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more information on claiming Italy’s building bonuses, homeowners are advised to consult a qualified Italian building surveyor or independent financial advisor.

See more in our Italian property section.