International Assignments to Italy: Challenges of Leasing
Posted by: Laura Roberts, Client Services Manager
Famous for its delicious cuisine, diverse regional cultures, high-end fashion and beautiful landscapes, most would see an international assignment to Italy as a "dream relocation." But even in a country surrounded by breathtaking coastlines, alpine lakes, and mountain ranges, assignees can encounter relocation challenges. Entering the local rental market is especially problematic currently.
As the Italian rental market is landlord-driven, there is little room for negotiation. As landlords don’t really view their properties as investments, they tend not to devote time to maintaining them. Assignees should be made aware of this before they begin the home search, as the standard of expatriate properties may be lower than elsewhere in Europe.
When discussing terms with landlords or real estate agents, be aware that verbal agreements are not binding. The only way to secure a property is by submitting a written and binding proposal to the landlord. In some cases, tenants will also be required to make a down payment of one month’s rent. This is lost if the tenant or landlord changes his or her mind, so it isn’t advisable to conduct multiple property negotiations.
Searching for a Home
It’s almost impossible to organise the pre-screening of rental properties as real estate agents and landlords normally aren’t willing to open up properties for this purpose. Assignees should also avoid searching for a property online as real estate websites are not updated regularly, and when they are, they may include inaccurate or misleading information. Instead, assignees should work with Cartus’ local destination services provider to source suitable accommodation.
Learning the Language
Property terms and phrases can mean different things from one country to the next, and this is no exception in Italy:
- Unfurnished (non arredato) means that there will be nothing in the property, with walls, ceilings, and floors completely bare. Often, even the kitchen will be empty, having no white goods or cooking equipment.
- Semi-furnished or partially-furnished (parzialmente arredato) properties will typically have an installed kitchen and wardrobe closets, although the rest of the property will be empty. If furniture rental is not included in the company’s relocation programme, then assignees opting to live in an unfurnished or semi-furnished property need to ensure they ship all necessary household goods.
- Fully furnished (arredato) properties will include all furniture and electrical appliances. Although this does not include bed linens, towels, plates, cutlery, and kitchen utensils.
We recommend that assignees are made aware of what these property descriptions mean before the home search begins, as it can be quite surprising to walk into a completely empty property, where not even light bulbs are included!
The two most popular property leases are "4+4" (four years with the chance to renew for another four) and "3+2" (three years with the option to renew for an additional two). Where possible, a diplomatic clause of three months will also be negotiated. Signing a lease may take up to a month and, in some cases, even longer. Companies should take this into consideration when scheduling assignment start dates.
In some cities, local laws prevent landlords from offering short-term leases, so companies scheduling short-term assignments should check whether this impacts the host location. If short-term leases aren’t an option, then we recommend serviced accommodation for short-term moves.
For more details on international assignments into Italy, please contact your Cartus representative. For information on other major locations worldwide, visit our Resource Page.