Rome's illegal rents highlighted

Study reveals Rome students pay high rents usually without rental contracts

Only 35 per cent of students renting in the city and province of Rome have legally-binding rental contracts with their landlords, according to a recent report by the capital's Guardia della Finanza.

The city, the Lazio region, the tax police, Rome's universities and the Lazio branch of the student's rights body Laziodisu have produced a handbook for distribution to 50,000 university students, designed to counteract the high trend of students being forced to pay rents “in nero” because it is the only option offered to them by many unscrupulous landlords.

The worst offender identified in the report by the financial police was an 80-year old landlord in Rome who rented out 41 apartments and all in nero. Often the landlord signed the lease and the tenant handed over the lease fee, but then the landlord never bothered to register the contract. In this particular case the landlord had "forgotten" to declare a taxable income amounting to €4 million.

The study by the financial police also found that the average price asked of students renting in Rome is between €350 and €550 per bed.

Following the release of the report the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera undertook a sample survey among Roman landlords, to illustrate the extent of the problem. Using a fake profile of a researcher looking for a room near La Sapienza University (in S. Lorenzo) or the Policlinico Gemelli (in Monte Mario), it placed adverts on two of the most popular websites used by students, Subito.it and Bakeka.it.

The newspaper described its subsequent findings as "unmerciful and disheartening." Out of the 15 landlords contacted only six offered contracts unsolicited. When contracts were requested from the other nine landlords, their responses ranged from anger and disbelief to providing irrational excuses and even offering a much-reduced rent for such an "honest person."

Among the areas in Rome worst affected by “affitti in nero” are S. Lorenzo, S. Giovanni, and Tiburtina, all located near La Sapienza, Europe's largest university.