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Living space is tight in Italian cities, which are often geographically constrained because it is built into, on top of, or between mountains-the kind of of urban sprawl you see in the United States simply can't occur in most parts of Italy. Even where there is room to spread out, historically they tended not to. This may be due to centuries of history: Italy was a collection of separate city-states which were often at war with their neighbours; people huddled into fortress towns and cities for safety, and many Italians have never lost this preference for living close together.

Homes are constructed differently, too. Basic building materials in Italy are concrete, brick, and sometimes stone. In the mountains, some houses are chalet-style, made of thick wooden planks. In the US, most modern houses are wood framed, with wooden or aluminum siding or stucco outside, and sheetrock inside. By European standards, they're flimsy, and they catch fire easily. Fire trucks screaming down the streets are a rare sight in Rome.

Italians have little or no concept of personal space. Being in close proximity with someone is considered a sign of affection or camraderie. Urban Italians have been living in apartments, condos, and townhouses since Roman times. The apartment building may have been invented in ancient Rome, and even in those days single-family dwellings were only for very rich families. Italian cities today are almost entirely apartment buildings, four to five stories tall in mid-sized towns, eight to ten in larger cities. In many buildings, the ground floor and basement are reserved for commercial use; greengrocers, bar/gelateria, bakers, and butchers are often right downstairs-extremely convenient, if you have forgotten something in your shopping. The first floor above ground level is undesirable to live on, partly because of pollution, partly because it's more vulnerable to housebreaking (that's why you often see bars on the lower windows of older buildings), so first floor apartments are often used as offices.

The higher up you go, the higher the value of the real estate, because the higher floors get more light and air and less pollution, and are less susceptible to being robbed. But the floor space remains the same-usually small. So how do you fit, say, three people, with all their possessions, into 70 square meters (750 square feet)?

One way is to go vertical. Ceilings in italy are higher than the American average, ( although they've gotten lower in modern buildings). So bookcases go all the way to the ceiling, and closets are divided vertically into two sections.You use the top sections for out-of-season clothing, lifting the clothes on hangers up to the high rod with a long-handled hook.

In some old buildings, the ceilings are so high that appartment owners are able to build in a loft. If you don't wan't to go to that much trouble or expense, you can buy a loft bed from Ikea, which leaves a nice workspace underneath. Bunk beds and loft beds are quite common for kid's rooms, often built into closet/desk/bed units called 'camerette' (little rooms). A 'cameretta a ponte' (with a bridge) has part of the closet built over the bed.There are entire furniture stores devoted to 'camerette' in every conceivable style, some of them the kind of fun furniture kids dream about, with play space under the bed, a miniature staircase going up to the loft bed (the steps lift up to provide storage space) and /or a slide for disembunking.

Renting an unfurnished apartment in Italy means completely unfurnished, you have to put in a kitchen (including the sink) and all the appliances. Appliances are different here. Refrigerators are smaller. Traditionally, Italian mothers shop for fresh food daily, so they don't need as much storage space for perishables. In Italy, everyone has a clothes washing machine in their home, often installed in the kitchen or a bathroom. In the Us you'll find shared coin-oprated machines in the basements of some apartment/condo buildings, you will never see this in italy. Coin-oprated are only storefront Laundomats.With an Italian home washing machine, a single load of laundry can take up to two hours, depending on the water temperatures you select, because the washers heat their own water. This makes sense, since many homes have only one small, electric boiler to heat water for the shower and kitchen. Most italians don't have clothes dryers. They are available, but given the cost of electricity here (twice what Americans pay), a dryer would be very expensive to run. Most houses have a large drying rack out on the balcony which thanks to Rome's climate gets sun almost every afternoon, so things dry quickly. In winter, the trick is to hang wet clothes on or near the radiators, which humidifies the air as well as dry the clothes.

Plugging in appliances can be a challenge. There are three types of electrical outlets in current use in italy. There are also variants on the two basic plugs, with or without grounding ( many older buildings don't have it, and it it's expensive to add). If you've got something that has to be plugged in at a particular spot and the plugs don't match, you either use an adapter or change the plug in the appliance. There are never enough outlets in Italian homes; sometimes entire walls have no outlets, which can play havoc with room arrangements. There never seems to be enough capacity, either sometimes everything else had to be turned off before running the dishwasher and few more appliances, otherwise the fuses would trip and we'd have to fumble our way down to the basement in the dark to turn the power back on.

In italy the housing market is generally favourable to the landlord. this means that landlords are generally able to obtain the prices they ask for.

When an agreement has been reached in order to secure the property a proposal (proposta) will be made. This will ensure that the property is not rented to someone else. The proposta is a short draft contract that will be signed by the renter together with a holding deposit, usually a months rent, is paid to the landlord. Once the proposta is accepted  the landlord is bound to rent the property to you. If you choose to pull out of the deal the deposit will be forfeited.

Real estate agents commission is usually equal to one months rent plus country tax 20%. The landlord have to register the contract. The fee for this registration is to be split between you and the landlord. The share of the tenant is 1% annual rent. In case of purchasing a property the real estate fees will be approx. 2-6% of the property price, survey costs, bank loan as well as notary fees and VAT on the property. The final figure will usually be an addtitonal 10%.

When renting a property there is usually a 2 to 3 month security deposit required too that will be refunded when you leave, provided that the property and furnishings are returned in the state in which they were intitially. We will make a thourough inspection and make an inventory when you enter the property. This will be done in the presenceof the landlord and you will both sign copies of the inventories. In Italy the tenant is responsible for the general maintenace and upkeep of the property. All major maintenance is the landlord's responsibilty. Basically it means you are responsible for all maintenance outside the walls (leaking taps, light fixtures etc).

You can only make alterations to the property with consent of the landlord.