Renting in Trieste: a guide to various types of contracts

Photo courtesy Keiron Mayora
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by In Trieste

When moving to Trieste, it can be overwhelming to navigate the Italian life and start building your future in the city. It is hard for Italian expats, let alone foreigners. That’s why it’s essential to understand the rules of this city and country and armed with knowledge and know-how start your life in Trieste.

In Italy there are generally two types of residential contracts, the first being free market contracts (contratto di libero mercato). These are based on an agreement made between the owner (locatore) and the tenant (conduttore). The contract lasts for four years, with an automatic renewal of a further four years (often called 4+4).

The second type is mutually agreed contracts (contratti a canone concordato); there are several flexible contractual forms for particular situations and groups of persons. These may have fiscal advantages for both owner and tenant (ie. income tax reduction). 

This type of contract allows for: residential (uso abitativo) with a duration of 3+2 years which can usually be increased to 4+2 and even beyond; transitory (uso transitorio) which has a duration of 1 to 18 months, and cannot be renewed, and is applicable usually to particular situations such as the need for the tenant to have the apartment available for a fixed short period, for example a temporary work contract; student rentals (uso studenti universitari) with a duration of between six and 36 months. This can be used in municipalities where there is a university and in their neighbouring municipalities.

Rental agreements in Italy differ quite a lot from those in most Anglo-American countries, where a lessee is normally responsible for paying a fixed rental, water and energy bills and the owner/lessor is responsible for maintenance of the property and any municipal and condominium levies. In Italy the lessees do not just pay rent but take on more of the financial obligations for the property they are renting. Here are some of the additions to look out for before entering into a rental contract.

First and foremost always ask for proof of ownership (visura catastale – property deed) to ensure that the person you are paying the rental to is the bona fide owner and not a family member or a factotum renting out the property without the owner’s knowledge, which could lead to your contract being annulled and leave you looking for other accommodation. The costs pertaining to the registration of the contract should be borne in equal parts by the lessee and owner/lessor. 

With regard to the rent (canone), if you are asked to pay a deposit (deposito cauzionale) as a guarantee to the owner, always request a separate receipt as at the termination of the contract you may be entitled to your deposit plus interest for the period it was retained. It is also advisable to include payment dates and method, i.e. bank transfer, cheque or cash.

If paying in cash (according to Italian law limits) always demand an official receipt in order to comply with Italian tax laws. Also check to see if the owner has included an ISTAT (consumer authority) clause in the contract. ISTAT is the national statistics authority that calculates the value of price increases every year; the owner of a property may increase the rent each year according to this percentage value. With cedolare secca this is not normally applicable. 

Over and above water and energy bills you will be responsible for all service charges pertaining to the use of the property such as central heating, lift ordinary maintenance, stair cleaning, ordinary maintenance of the courtyard and garden, cold water from central systems, and any costs for the administration of the apartment building and waste tax.

To establish the actual amount of the service charges it is advisable to ask the owner or estate agent for a copy of the previous year’s balance sheets, complete with a division of the costs, of which each apartment in a condominium pays a share, based on the size and value of the apartment, usually expressed in millesimi (thousandths of the total).

Normally, the total is calculated annually by the company administering the condominium (Amministrazione) and depending on actual end of year total any additional costs may be demanded from you, or you may also get money back. Ask for clarifications regarding such procedure known as conguaglio.  

This is very tricky in Italy, so we recommend perhaps having this table translated so one can check one’s individual situation.* 

On expiry of the contract the property must be returned to the owner in the same condition, without prejudice to normal wear and tear. In order to protect yourself it is advisable to take photographs of the interior of the property before taking up occupation and give copies to the agent or owner for reference.

Also check the painting clause in the contract, as many owners hold the tenant responsible for repainting the interior of the property at the end of the lease. If this is included, specify that prior to painting you will either select the contractor to carry out the work or that you have the right to approve a quote by the owner to prevent extravagant costs. If you wish to make improvements to the property ask for such permission to be included in your contract (migliorie nell’immobile applicated dall’inquilino). 

Check to make sure there is an early termination clause in the contract and agree to this with the owner. This gives the leaseholder the possibility to terminate the contract in advance. Keep in mind that it is usually provided for by a usually six (sometimes 3) months notice period and written notice must be sent by registered letter with confirmation of receipt (raccomandata a/r). If you have to transfer for work, it would be prudent to ask your employer to grant you the same notice period, or you could find yourself paying a double rental for a period.

For all matters not specifically covered in the contract, request that it should include a clause with reference to the Italian Civil Code and Italian law no. 431 of 1998. In this way you are covered by the law in the event of any other unexpected requests.

The landlord cannot terminate the contract early for family reasons. The landlord may only terminate the contract for the following reasons: if the tenant infringes the rules laid down by a condominium; if the tenant willfully damages the property; repetitive non-payment of rental, condominium fees or services.

It is advisable to get the contract translated into English so that you can go through it to make sure you are happy with it before signing it and buying a Home sweet home sign.

  • * Many thanks to ABITHA rental agency for helping us write this article.
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Francesco Stumpo
Francesco is the IT brains behind this website. He works in insurance but his real passion is innovative technology. He is a runner and a swimmer, and he never says no to a good Italian meal.



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