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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.

Tenants in a flat in France.
Many EU countries are imposing caps on rents, but Italy isn’t among them. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

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.

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For members


Reader question: What are the rules on moving household goods to Italy?

If you plan to bring furniture and other household items with you when moving to Italy, here's a look at how import tax applies and the other rules in place.

Reader question: What are the rules on moving household goods to Italy?

Question: My husband and I are buying a second home in Italy and would like to ship household items over from the US. Will we need to pay import duty? Does one of us need to be a resident? And are there any other rules we need to be aware of?

According to EU rules, goods transported into the bloc that have a value of more than €150 are subject to customs duties and sometimes excise tax as well, depending on the item.

Since July 2021, a customs declaration form has been required for all goods imported from outside the EU, and Italian VAT must be paid on items with any monetary value – unless the package sent between private individuals and the value of its contents is below €45.

However, there is an exception for people relocating to Italy.

The Italian customs agency says that you are “generally entitled to VAT and customs duty relief” if you are moving to Italy and bringing household goods which you have owned for more than six months.

To qualify, you also need to be able to show that you have been living in a non-EU country for at least the preceding 12 months.

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

The exemption only applies if you have Italian residency: you’ll need to show the customs office both your permesso di soggiorno stay permit, obtained from the questura police headquarters, and your residency certificate, issued by the comune town hall where you’re resident.

Note that buying a second home does not automatically entitle you to a stay permit or give you any residency rights; non-EU nationals require a visa in order to stay in Italy for more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

To claim the import duty relief, you’ll need to file a request with your local customs office once your household goods have arrived in Italy.

You’ll also need to be able to show the customs office your passport and your Italian tax code.

According to the A1 Auto Transport international moving company, you’ll need to prepare a significant amount of paperwork, including filling out a customs declaration form and making a detailed inventory of all items that is signed and stamped by the Italian consulate of your departure country.

While the Italian customs website does not provide any details on timelines, A1 says you should transport your items within six months of moving to Italy in order to be eligible for import duty relief.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about having a second home in Italy

If you’re using a shipping company, they should be familiar with the process and able to advise you on the documentation required and the most up-to-date procedures.

If you don’t qualify for import tax relief, you’ll be liable to pay both customs duty and VAT. The Italian customs agency website says that customs duty varies according to the type of good being transported, while VAT is 20 percent.

Online calculators like those provided by Simply Duty or Easyship can help you determine how much import tax you’ll have to pay.

Please note that the Local is unable to advise on specific cases. For more information, refer to the Italian customs agency website or contact the customs office of your town of residency.