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RENTING

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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READER QUESTIONS

Are Italian taxi drivers required to accept card payments?

If you’re used to paying for rides with just a quick tap of your credit card, you may find things aren't quite that easy in Italy.

Are Italian taxi drivers required to accept card payments?

Question: ‘I’ve heard taxi drivers in Italy are now legally required to let you pay by card. Is this true, and what exactly are the rules?’

Italian taxi services have long been the target of intense public scrutiny, with drivers up and down the boot often doing very little to avoid criticism from high-profile public figures and regular Italian citizens alike.

Reports of taxi drivers ripping off unsuspecting tourists in major cities are common: last month, the BBC’s Italy correspondent Mark Lowen shared the story of how a friend was charged 70 euros for a journey from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to the city centre – a trip that has a fixed cost of 50 euros.

READ ALSO: Rome vows to crack down on ‘rip-off’ airport taxis targeting tourists

But overcharging aside, Italian taxi drivers have also been long known for their ‘unenthusiastic’ attitude towards card payments, with many reportedly insisting on cash only.

So, in an effort to clear up at least some of the doubts on the subject, we’ll try to answer the pressing question of whether or not Italian taxi drivers are actually required by law to accept electronic payments.

Pedestrians walk on an empty taxi lane in central Rome, Italy

Italian taxi drivers are legally obliged to accept card payments and fines are in place for transgressors. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

From a legal point of view, there seems to be no room for confusion.

Since 2014, businesses selling items or services have been required to accept card payments (under Article 15 of Bill (Decreto Legge) 179/2012, later updated by Article 18 of Bill 36/2022). The law says they should accept at least one type of credit card, one type of debit card, and prepaid cards.

This regulation applies to all retailers, business owners and self-employed individuals. As such, it encompasses taxi drivers.

Though whether or not this law has been widely enforced so far is another question.

Under an update to the law, as of June 30th 2022 there are penalties for non-compliance: businesses caught refusing card payments are liable to pay “a 30-euro administrative fee plus four percent of the value of the transaction previously denied”. 

So, for instance, in the case of a 100-euro fare, the driver who did not accept a card payment is liable to receive a fine equal to 34 euros (30 plus 4, i.e. 4 percent of 100).

Having said that, while the law does compel taxi drivers to accept card payments and fines are in place for those flouting the rules, many taxi drivers are – to put it mildly – not so fond of the idea of having clients pay by card.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Why can’t I get an Uber in Italy?

The latest incident happened earlier this week in Milan. 

When Philip, 43, and his 12-year-old daughter Raymie, from Melbourne, Australia, asked to pay for their five-euro taxi fare by card, their driver told them that he would only accept a cash payment. 

After an argument, the taxi driver flew into a rage, got out of the vehicle and started throwing his customers’ luggage onto the street – as a result, most of the Murano glass items they had bought while visiting Venice were destroyed.

The whole scene was captured by an incredulous resident and later posted online, where it quickly went viral.

Sadly, this was just the latest in a long series of incidents involving denied card payments, including several reported by high-profile Italians.

Last month, writer and content creator Camilla Boniardi, better known by the moniker ‘Camihawke’, got into a heated argument with a taxi driver who initially said he wouldn’t accept a card payment before backing down.

Italian gymnast Carlotta Ferlito wasn’t as lucky as, after reminding her driver that he was legally obliged to accept card payments, she was asked to get out of the car halfway through her journey.

So, given Italian taxi drivers’ apparent propensity to lose their cool at the mere suggestion of a card payment, what should you do in the event you are denied the right to pay by card?

The enforcement of any rules involving electronic payments is up to the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) and the Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza).

Guardia di Finanza officers in San Fiorano, Milan, Italy

The Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) should be the first point of contact for customers looking to report a taxi driver. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

So, should you be unlucky enough to find yourself in this situation, you have the option of reporting the driver to the police.

The easiest way to do so is by calling the Guardia di Finanza at the toll-free number 117, though keep in mind that not all operators will speak English fluently.

Alternatively, you can print out and complete this form. There’s no option to submit it online – you’ll need to hand-deliver it to the nearest Guardia di Finanza precinct.

For further information please see the Guardia di Finanza website.

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