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RENTING

Reader question: How can I find an apartment to rent in Rome?

The Eternal City is a popular destination for foreigners wanting to stay for a few months or even years, but finding a place to rent can be complicated. Here's where to start.

Where should you start when looking for a place to rent in Rome?
Where should you start when looking for a place to rent in Rome? Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Question: I’m moving to Rome in the spring with friends and we’re looking to rent an apartment in a central area. Do you have any suggestions for good sources of rentals in Rome?

For those staying in Rome for just a few weeks, it’s often simplest to go with a short-term booking site like Airbnb.

If you’re planning on staying for longer than this, however, it’s probably more cost-effective to go the official route and sign a rental agreement – though be prepared to deal with a certain amount of hassle (more on this below).

Some of the most popular websites in Italy for rentals are idealista.it, immobiliare.it, and casa.it, where you’ll find a wide range of apartments for rent.

All the listings on these sites are in Italian, so it’s helpful to familiarise yourself with some key vocabulary.

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

In affitto is ‘for rent’ (in vendita, ‘for sale’). For a short-term let, you’ll want a place that’s furnished (arredato). A  locale is a room (note: not a bedroom), so a bilocale is a one-bedroom with one other room and a monolocale is a studio. 

It’s worth reviewing all the photos available and if possible the floor plan (planimetria) so you know exactly what kind of set up the house has; for example a trilocale doesn’t necessarily have two bedrooms, but might just be a one-bed with a separate living room and kitchen. 

For people beginning their search without any Italian, the English-language real estate listings aggregator Nestpick is a good option – though bear in mind you’re unlikely to find the same range of options as on the Italian-language sites.

If you’re coming with a university, they should be your first port of call; some will have a roster of trusted landlords, or can at least direct you to online forums where you can seek recommendations from current and former students.

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

Facebook is also a good place to look: Rent in Rome and Rome Expats have two of the largest groups dedicated to searching for an apartment in the eternal city. If you know you want somewhere for at least a year, Long Term Rentals Italy is also an option.

As a guidepost, InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas, lists the average monthly rent in Rome as €1,220.

Italy’s rental contracts tend to favour tenants: common contracts are the 3+2 or 4+4, which means the rent is locked in for at least three/four years, at the end of which the renter can choose to renew at the same rate for another two/four years.

Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome.
Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The contratto transitorio (temporary or short-term lease), by contrast, is for anywhere between one and eighteen months. Bear in mind it’s the landlord, not the tenant, that’s locked into these minimum time periods – just make sure there’s a clause that allows you to move out after a specified notice period.

Landlords often prefer to rent our their apartments with contratti transitori so they have more freedom to sell or raise the rent, so you may be at an advantage if you’re looking for a place to stay for just a few months.

Even with just a short-term lease, a landlord can request up to three months’ rent (!) in advance as a security deposit, and it’s common to ask for two. To stand the best chance of getting your deposit back, it’s worth taking detailed photos of the property before you move in so you have a record of its state.

READ ALSO: ‘Why I used to hate living in Rome as a foreigner – and why I changed my mind’

If you’re going through an agency, it’s also common for tenants to pay a finder’s fee of one month’s rent – all of which can make initial costs rise very fast. The silver lining is that in Rome you can (and should) negotiate on the rent, deposit, and other contract terms, and not just take what you’re offered.

Some landlords will suggest you bypass an agency and deal directly with them. While avoiding the agency fees is tempting, this can leave you in a very vulnerable situation as you have no legal standing if it turns out you don’t have an official rental contract – so it’s not advised.

It’s also important not to hand over any money until you’ve viewed the apartment in person (or had a trusted representative do so on your behalf) and confirmed the listing is legitimate. Scams are not unheard of in Rome, and foreigners are ideal targets.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

When browsing listings, consider what’s important to you in terms of the neighbourhood and type of property – and if there’s anything you’re unsure of, it’s worth seeking out advice in online groups from people already living in the city.

A ground floor apartment on a cobbled side street near the centre, for example, may sound ideal, but if it’s in a touristy neighbourhood you may find you’re quickly driven mad by the sound of rolling luggage bouncing past your window all hours of the day and night.

Finding an apartment to rent in Rome can be a challenge, but if you put in the effort, you’re sure to find your ideal base – and move on to making the most of your time in one of Europe’s most picturesque and historically rich capitals.

Member comments

  1. readers should be aware that the web sites for real estate listed in the article (casa.it, immobiliare.it) show statistics on rental price per square meter by neighborhood, and the differences by neighborhood can be significant. although Rome real estate is highly variable and thus even within a zone there is variation in price, these stats are a good place to start. they are also useful to judge whether the rent being requested by the landlord is reasonable. more livable close in neighborhoods, like San Giovanni or San Paolo/Garbatella are more economical and deliver an experience more like living as a local, as well as having their own interesting histories. To avoid getting taken for a ride a renter might consider getting in touch with a Rome based English speaking lawyer to review the contract and see how the rates for the legal advice would compare with paying a real estate company. you might have a better chance of unbiased review of the rental contract, as well as experience dealing with issues common among foreigners, which a real estate agent may not have. but if the apt is listed and shown by an agency i don’t think you would have a choice as to paying the agency fee.

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For members

MOVING TO ITALY

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.

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