Achille Serra, the prefect of Rome, has warned of an imminent housing shortage in the city where more than 15,000 Roman families are threatened with losing their homes if a legal block on evictions is not renewed, when it expires on 31 Dec.

In the past, many of the major public and state companies owned large numbers of flats and houses in the city which they rented out for affordable rents. In the last few years thousands of these properties have been sold off, either to sitting tenants or to other private buyers. In many cases the families facing eviction are tenants who could not afford to buy their own home and are now facing eviction because the person or company who did buy the property now wishes to take possession. The price of buying and and renting property is rising steeply in Rome. and the city council has a very limited amount of accommodation available for the most needy cases.