What are The Local Italy’s ‘reader questions’?

As part of our service to members of The Local Italy, we are happy to answer questions from readers on any aspect of life in Italy or Italian culture.

What are The Local Italy’s ‘reader questions’?

You may have seen articles titled ‘reader question’ around the site and, as you may be have guessed, they’re based on questions sent in by you, The Local’s readers.

We receive – and try our best to answer – a large number of such questions, and if any of them touch on a topic that is likely to affect or interest others, we may turn the answer into an article with ‘reader question’ in the headline.

Who can ask a reader question and can I ask anonymously?

All readers of The Local Italy can email us to ask a question; there is no need to be a paying subscriber.

However, answering reader questions individually is a time-consuming task made possible only by the support of our members. The growing archive of ‘reader question’ articles is therefore behind the paywall.

There is no need to live in Italy to ask a question either – we tackle many topics relevant to second-home owners, visitors to Italy or simply people who have an interest in Italy and its culture – but the question does need to relate to Italy.

We will only turn a question into a reader question article where it has value to the broader Local community (and where we know or can find out the answer, obviously).

All reader questions we publish are anonymous. We never release any details of your private correspondence with us and we will not publish a reader question where the person asking it could be identified.

What kinds of questions do we answer?

It can really be anything.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve focused on practical issues relating to Covid rules and travel restrictions and their impact on readers’ lives.  For example, you asked us how to get vaccinated in Italy without a health card and whether you needed to update your green pass after a booster shot..

We’ve also answered your questions about navigating Brexit-related changes and everyday Italian bureaucracy.

Most recently, you asked us everything from what the longer-term alternatives to car hire are when visiting Italy, to whether your children would be eligible for an Italian passport.

But the questions don’t have to be bureaucracy-related (even if this is probably the most perplexing aspect of life in the country!)

If you have a question about Italian language or culture, we’re happy to have a go at answering this too – no matter how big or small.

In brief; if you’ve ever wondered, feel free to ask.

If necessary, we will reach out to our contacts in the Italian government or to trusted experts to get the answer.  

If you’d like to have a question answered, drop us a line at [email protected]

You can find our previous reader questions HERE.

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Reader question: Can my landlord legally increase my rent in Italy?

With the cost of living crisis can Italian landlords increase your rent, and if so, when and by how much? Here’s what you need to know about the laws protecting tenants.

Reader question: Can my landlord legally increase my rent in Italy?

Question: ‘Is my landlord in Italy legally entitled to increase my rent and is there any protection for tenants?’

As living costs keep rising across Europe, so do concerns about meeting them: in Italy, 57 percent of families are already having trouble paying their rent, according to a recent survey by consumer group Coop.

In an effort to help renters, several European countries – including Spain, France and Denmark – have recently brought in temporary caps on the amount by which landlords can increase prices, but Italy isn’t following suit.

So does that mean Italian landlords can legally raise their tenants’ rents? And, if so, when and by how much?

Though there is no single law explicitly preventing landlords from increasing the rent, a number of rules (commonly known as ‘corpus normativo’ or ‘body of law’) actually stop owners from raising monthly fees after a contract has been signed by both parties, with only one legal exception.

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

Apartments in France.

Italian landlords cannot legally increase rent in most types of contract. Photo by Francois GUILLOT / AFP

Italy has two main types of residential rental contracts (‘contratti di locazione’ in Italian) available to renters (‘inquilini’) and landlords (‘proprietari’): contratti di locazione a canone libero and contratti di locazione a canone concordato

Under a canone libero contract, the monthly rent is negotiated and agreed upon between landlord and tenant, and the length of the agreement follows the ‘4+4’ formula. That means that, after the first four years, the agreement automatically renews for four more years, unless one of the parties chooses to terminate the contract (usually six months’ notice is required).

As for contratti a canone concordato, the monthly rent can never exceed a threshold agreed upon by formally recognised local landlord associations and tenant organisations – these thresholds vary by region.

Also, these contracts follow the ‘3+2’ formula, meaning that the tenancy agreement of interest automatically renews after the first three years unless one of the parties chooses to terminate it.

Now, at no point over the course of either of the above agreements can the landlord raise the rent as, even when contracts are renewed for a further four or two years, the amount owed by the tenant/s must remain the same

In other words, if an Italian landlord wishes to increase the rent, the only way he can do so is by terminating the current contract – naturally, the tenants must also agree to withdraw from the contract before its natural expiration – and then draw up and agree upon another agreement, this time with a higher monthly fee.

READ ALSO: These are the most expensive places to rent a room in Italy

As previously mentioned, there is only one exception to this legislation: landlords can revise the rent annually based on cost-of-living data provided by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), also known as ‘indici ISTAT’. This is an instrument that effectively allows landlords to protect their purchasing powers.

An adeguamento can only happen under tenancy agreements in the canone libero category and is only legally acceptable if the tenancy agreement originally signed by both parties expressly included a provision (clausola) allowing for the yearly revision (adeguamento annuale).

If a contract does not include the above clause, then the landlord cannot legally review the rent on a yearly basis. 

Annual revision

Though it may seem like a rather unfathomable concept at first glance, the annual rent revision can de facto be explained fairly quickly. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Do renters in Italy have the right to keep pets?

In short, every year, ISTAT estimates how much the average cost of living across the country has changed by analysing expenditures related to a number of sectors, from grocery shopping to utility bills to transport and healthcare costs. The resulting estimate is expressed in the form of a percentage value, commonly referred to as ‘indice ISTAT’.

Apartments in Milan, Italy.

An annual rent revision in line with ISTAT’s cost-of-living estimates can only be applied to agreements in the ‘canone libero’ category. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

The annual rent revision is then calculated by means of the following formula: 

Yearly rent x indice ISTAT / 100

For instance, suppose that a tenant’s yearly rent was 7,200 euros and the indice ISTAT for the year was 2 percent. By multiplying the yearly rent by the indice and then dividing the product by 100, the tenant would get an annual rent revision of 144 euros (equal to 12 euros a month).

Naturally, while the value of the yearly adeguamento can be calculated autonomously, there are a number of online services offering to do the maths for you, including ISTAT’s own platform, Rivaluta.