Where we live is important. Everyone wants to feel protected and secure at home. If you have just come to Italy, you are probably looking for a place to rent. Finding a good place to live may be difficult. Don’t give up! Here is some information about finding a place to live.
Before you start
Before starting to look for a house or apartment to rent, think about three things:
• How much
How much money can you spend for a place to live? Think first about how much you can afford to pay each month. A good rule is: try not to spend more than one-third of your income on rent. If the rent is more than one-third of what you and your family earn, it may become difficult to pay your other expenses.
• How big
How many rooms will you and your family need?
Which areas of your region would be best to live in? For example, is it near your work? Is there a school? If there good public transportation?
Once you have thought about these things, you are ready to start looking. You may not find or be able to pay for everything you want. You may have to make choices about what is most important for you and your family.
Renting or buying?
There are two ways you can get a home: you can rent or you can buy.
• Renting a room or a house means that you are living in a house that is not yours. You will have the right to live there for a limited period of time when you sign a contract and make regular monthly payments.
• Buying an apartment or house means that you will pay a lot of money and then you will own the property. For most people, this takes a long time.
Important: discrimination means unfair behavior towards someone because of their culture, nationality, sex or skin color. Discrimination is against the law in Italy. For example, if a property owner won’t rent to you because you are a foreigner, that is discrimination, and it is illegal.
Room for rent in a shared house
You can rent a room in a house where other people live. This means that you will share common spaces, such as the kitchen and living room and maybe the bathroom. You will also share the expenses, such as utility bills (or bollette in Italian). In Italy, people who live in the same house and are not part of the same family are called coinquilini. Many students and some workers choose to live in a rented room because it costs much less than renting an entire house or apartment. It is also a way to meet new people and not feel alone.
Sometimes the best way to find a room is through people you know. You may meet someone who is looking for coinquilini, or someone who is moving and giving up a room in a shared house. Tell people you are looking for somewhere to live in case they have heard of a room.
Renting a house or apartment
You can rent an entire house or apartment. Of course it costs more than renting a room, but you will have more space for you and your family.
There are some real estate agents who offer rental properties, too, but they charge a fee.
What is a lease?
A lease is a written agreement, or contract, between you and the owner. You sign a lease when you rent a house, apartment, or room. In the lease agreement, you agree to pay the rent (and in some cases the bills) on time each month. The owner agrees to give you the place in good condition, meaning that things are not broken and that it is clean.
Before signing the contract, be sure to look at the room or the house with the owner. If there are broken things, or if the place is dirty, ask the owner to write specific notes about this in the lease. This way the owner cannot blame you for the damage or dirty condition.
When you move into a room or house, the owner will ask you to pay an amount of money that is called a deposit (deposito). This money is kept by the owner for the whole time of the lease. By the end of this time, if you have paid the rent every month and the room or house is in good condition, the owner will give you back the deposit money. If you have not paid every month or if you have damaged the property, he will keep some or all of the money to cover the damage.
Leases are for a certain time, with a beginning date and an ending date. Most leases for rooms are six months. Sometimes, the landlord will let you rent a room for less time. For apartments and houses, leases are usually from one to three years.
What happens when you want to leave or when the property owner wants you to leave? Giving notice means telling the other person you are ending the lease. Most owners will want you to give them several weeks of notice before you end your lease. They will have to give you the same amount of notice if they want you to leave. Carefully read the part of the lease that talks about this. Be sure you understand how much notice you must give the owner and how much notice the owner must give you. Then make sure to follow the agreement.
When you rent a home, you will usually have to pay for the cost of utilities such as water, electricity, gas, telephone etc. You will get a bill by mail, telling you how much money you must pay. You have to pay bills within a set time. You can pay most bills on the internet or at a post office, using the bollettino you got in the mail.
Public housing is owned by the government. It is for people who cannot afford to rent or buy a house. You still have to pay rent, but the cost is very low.
Italian citizens and residents with low incomes can apply for public housing. Foreign residents who want to apply must have a residence permit that is valid for at least two years and proof of a job. People with official refugee status do not need to have a job to apply. Many people apply, so it can be hard to get housing.
You can only apply when your local Comune makes a public announcement. You should check regularly with your Comune to find out when there will be an announcement.
When the announcement is made, you fill out a form and send it to the public housing office. To get the information you need and to find out how to fill out the form, you can make an appointment with the public housing office of your Comune.
To search for the address of your local Comune on the internet, type these words: “Indirizzo Comune di [name of your city /region]”
You can buy a house or an apartment. The price of houses in Italy varies a lot. It depends on the size of the house, where it is, and what condition it is in.
Buying a house can be very expensive. Not many people have enough money to buy a house. Instead, they save up money to make a large payment. Then they borrow the rest from a bank. But before the bank gives you a loan for a house (called a mortgage, or mutuo in Italian) you must prove you can pay back a set amount of money every month for many years. You also need a residence permit. You can read more information about mortgages for foreign residents.
If you are an asylum seeker or have international protection status
Urgent need of shelter
If you urgently need a place to sleep, you can find reception centers in your city. Find a reception center on this map
Or you can call 800 800 570, a telephone helpline for asylum seekers and refugees.
Help finding a place to live in your city
If you need help to find a place to stay, ask for information and support from organizations that serve migrants. Find organizations that help migrants in your city. You can call them or go to their offices.
Staying in a SPRAR center
The SPRAR network offers protection and reception for refugees and unaccompanied minors. The SPRAR network gives accommodation, training courses and other services to newcomers who need help and who do not have the money to pay rent.
However, getting accepted into one of the SPRAR organizations is difficult for two reasons:
1) There are fewer places available in SPRAR centers than there are requests for places.
2) The application to get a place must come from the Prefecture after your case has been reviewed. You cannot make the application yourself.
Access to housing
If you have refugee status or subsidiary protection, you have the right to apply for public housing. See “Public housing” above for information about how to apply for public housing and how to find your public housing office.