Can one rent a house in the time of coronavirus?

Can one rent a house in the time of coronavirus?

The coronavirus has totally disrupted this beginning of 2020, which should have been a good year in many ways. Unfortunately, however, we have had to deal with this serious pandemic, which, although now to a slightly lesser extent than in past months, is completely changing our lives in the short term, from every angle you look at it.

Of course, the situation is also the same in the real estate world, especially when it comes to renting houses. Many give it up directly, waiting to sign the contract directly at the end of the health emergency. But not everyone knows that renting a home in the time of coronavirus is possible, although there are a number of measures to consider and issues to address.

Steps for renting a house

Renting a house during coronavirus can be done thanks to technology. Let’s start by saying that the conditions exist for being able to affix a remote digital signature to a contract without having to move from home. In fact, landlord, tenant and real estate agent can avoid meeting physically and proceed directly online by affixing their signatures. However, this is the final step: first the house must be visited. Possible? Certainly, thanks to video calls and virtual visits. Simply bring along a smartphone or tablet, and thanks to the expertise of a real estate agent you will be immersed in a 360-degree tour, with attached descriptions of the rooms.

Any negotiation on the asking price can be addressed simply by phone, or alternatively by meeting in complete safety in open spaces, keeping your distance and wearing a mask. At the time of writing this article, in some regions you are not allowed to move from your municipality of residence, so this can only be done if the governor of your region has ruled on this. However, things are changing abruptly, so we recommend that you keep up to date with local and national regulations.

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After agreeing on the price and signing the contract, it is finally necessary to register at an Internal Revenue Service office; but using the RLI (Real Estate Lease Registration) software made available free of charge, it is possible to do this digitally directly from home. For more information and to download the software you can visit this page of the Internal Revenue Service website; the RLI software is available for both Windows computers and Linux and MacOS operating systems.

The issues

This is it, thanks to the steps just described you have taken a rental house. Unfortunately, however, now the difficulties begin: here are the main issues to be addressed.


The first issue of renting a house in the time of coronavirus concerns moving. Until moving companies reopen (they have not been listed as “strictly necessary”) one must do it oneself, self-certifying the job as a situation of necessity. It is also possible to rely on an open moving company that has indicated a willingness to reopen to the prefecture.

But there is another variable to take into account, and that is the autonomy of different regions, as some governors have authorized moving companies to distribute. So inform yourself well, and you can save yourself the stress of self-moving by relying on the professionals in the field.


What about the notary? It is not necessary for a normal rental, much less for a rental room for out-of-state students. The only case where it is necessary is rent with redemption, or rent to buy, a solution that could be attractive to many, considering, for example, that for 5 years of study away from home a family spends over 30 thousand euros in rent. In cases such as these, unfortunately, it must be emphasized that times are very slow. According to the National Council of Notaries, it is still possible to contact the notary public to schedule the deed to be drawn up, and to go to the office only by appointment, respecting the hours and avoiding bringing unnecessary companions.

Facilitated payment of rent

But there is a question on the lips of anyone who has rented a house: is subsidized payment of rent possible? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, as there could be numerous scenarios, subject to current legal regulations.

In fact, tenants can apply for temporary reduction of rent due to the state of emergency under Article 1464 of the Civil Code, which provides for supervening partial impossibility, or under Article 1467, which provides for supervening excessive onerousness. There are also Article 1256, which provides for temporary inability to perform one’s obligation (due to the business closure order), and Article 1258, which provides for partial inability to render the service due.

Having named all these articles indicates only one thing: the right to rent reduction is neither a given nor automatic. You will then have to arm yourself with patience and talk to the landlord, engaging in amicable negotiation to bring the situation to an end and squeeze out a reduction, albeit temporary, in the rent. As a last resort, you can always take legal action by trying the scenarios we listed above; be aware, however, that losing the case will require you to pay legal fees.

The situation abroad

We have described in as much detail as possible the rental situation at the time of the coronavirus in Italy. But what happens abroad?

In Spain, for example, the government has launched a series of measures to protect tenants in distress, guaranteeing microcredits to pay rent and imposing a ban on evictions through 2020. In Germany evictions are banned until September 30, while in the UK the ban lasts until the end of June, but only in England and Wales.

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