If you’ve purchased a beautiful house or apartment in Italy but don’t plan to live there on a full time basis then you should seriously consider employing the services of a local property manager to oversee it while you’re away. I am a part-time expat. I own a small flat in Volterra and when I am not in Italy, I rent it short term. A property management company helps me with managing the rentals.
During your absence from Italy, it is bound to be difficult to stay on top of the property’s maintenance and so having a property manager to handle this for you can be extremely useful. This is especially important if you plan to rent out your property while you’re away because managing the tenants is almost impossible from the other side of the world!
Property management is a service that is provided to property owners by a company which oversees the management, maintenance and letting of your property while you are away.
Property management covers all aspects of the real estate market including commercial and residential properties. Different management companies have different specializations so you’ll have to shop around to find the right one for you.
Why Do You Need A Property Manager In Italy?
It’s extremely difficult to manage your own property if you are not in the country or living elsewhere. For this reason, hiring a trusted property manager is an excellent idea because they will take the stress out of the management and maintenance of your house or apartment on your behalf.
The Top Reasons To Hire A Property Manager.
- While you are away you won’t know what condition your property is in. A property manager will conduct regular inspections and promptly arrange any maintenance that is required.
- A property manager will arrange all the necessary cleaning and gardening services while you are away. This is crucial if you are planning to rent out your property to tenants in your absence.
- A property manager can handle all the bureaucracy that is involved in maintaining a property in Italy. Don’t forget that the bureaucracy in Italy can be pretty onerous so having a local agent sorting it out on your behalf will make it much less stressful while you’re out of the country.
- You can arrange to have work and renovation done on your property in your absence so you don’t have to worry about being disturbed while you’re in Italy yourself! During the renovation of my property, my property manager even filled out the numerous forms and submitted it to the bank to get the money back from the Italian government (The Italian government had a plan in 2021 where you will get back a certain percentage of the renovation cost (typically between 40% to 60%). This is specifically for certain types of renovation, say like renovating the historic roof of an apartment).
How Do You Find A Good Property Management Company In Italy?
You should not Google, as we all do in the United States, and hire a property manager. Hiring someone off of the internet after checking their websites and online reviews will definitely work in the United States. It might also work in the United Kingdom and a few other countries, but it is not the best way to find a property manager or anyone for that matter in most parts of the world including Italy. You have to identify a company using your network in Italy. Ask your real estate agent, friends, relatives, bank manager, accountant or neighbors. Post messages in Expat forums and see how people respond.
What Services Does A Property Manager In Italy Provide For You?
Every property management service is slightly different so you’ll have to inquire in detail to find out if they will be able to deliver exactly what you need with respect to your property. However, the general services that a good property manager provides should always include the following.
Local Representation While You Are Out Of The Country.
- Your property manager can look after the keys to your property so they are safe and available for when they’re needed for new tenants or guests.
- They can act as your representative in terms of arranging legal documents, municipal taxes and other local issues.
- Oversee and liaise on your behalf with respect to any security issues that may arise in your absence.
- The property manager can settle any insurance claims that are required for your property.
Routine Operational Management Services.
- Your property manager can arrange cleaning staff, gardeners and other third party workers to handle any maintenance that is required while you’re away.
- The property manager should regularly inspect your property and take responsibility for the quality of any work that is conducted on site.
- Check to ensure that the property isn’t damaged in bad weather, such as storms or strong wind.
- Keep your property well ventilated by opening windows before guests move in as well as monitor humidity levels during the winter months to ensure that your property doesn’t get mold or structural damp.
- Conduct regular health and safety checks on the property.
- Oversee gas and electric utilities checks.
- Ensure that the property is in line with any changes in municipal environmental requirements.
- Your property manager will immediately check any specific details that you request them to.
Manage Tenants And Guests In Your Absence.
- The property manager will check your property before any tenants or guests arrive to rent it. They will make sure that the garden is in a tidy condition, the house is cleaned, beds are made and that the pool is clean, among other necessary checks.
- They will be there to welcome your tenants or guests when they arrive and explain to them all the information that they need to know. For instance, they will give your tenants a list of emergency contact numbers, show them how to use the heating or air conditioning and generally ensure that your guests will be comfortable during their stay.
- Your property manager will be there at the end of your guest’s stay to check that nothing has been damaged or broken and to collect the keys on your behalf.
- Once the guests have left they will ensure that the property is properly cleaned and ready for any future guests that will be arriving.
Oversee Your Financial Arrangements.
- Your property manager will make sure that all third party staff are paid and keep any invoices for you to inspect later.
- Pay utilities bills as well any other routine costs and expenses associated with the property.
- Handle a local bank account on your behalf to make any required tax and municipal payments on your behalf.
- They will produce and deliver regular financial reports, including any costs and rental income, for you to inspect while you are away.
- Your property manager may work with a local accountant or tax expert to ensure that you’re paying the correct taxes and taking advantage of any discounts that may be available to you.
Valuable Advice And Recommendations.
As part of the property management services you should be offered regular advice on the best ways to proceed. Ideally, you should be given a monthly report which discusses any relevant items that have recently arisen.
You should also be offered advice about renovations, modifications and other improvements to the property which could increase your income by boosting the level of rent that you can charge per month.
A property manager should also keep a close eye on the condition of the property’s inventory so that it can be quickly replaced when needed. This is particularly important for items such as towels, bed linen and kitchen equipment.
Lastly, your property manager should evaluate the overall state of the property as well as provide you with actionable advice that can help you going forward. Essentially, your property manager should be working with you in a close partnership so that you are always kept up to date on any details that may impact your property or the future income from it.
Special Services That Property Managers In Italy Provide.
There are property managers like the one that I work with, who can provide services that are outside the traditional services that property managers typically provide. My property manager has people in his company who can pick me up from the airport, book hotel rooms through their contacts, provide translation services and arrange tours. During one of my recent visits, the company was able to book an appointment with a clinic for an RT-PCR test!
My property manager also helped me open a bank account in Italy. I sent all the required documents to the company first. The company sent the documents to the bank, got their feedback and then fixed an appointment for me. Even with all this, I had to sit in front of the bank manager for almost two hours to actually open the account. This was because of the fact that I was a US citizen and also because I did not have an Italian phone at that time. So it was difficult for them to setup the two step authentication to access my new account.
These are things that you can do by yourself. But in Italy it takes time and patience.
Challenges And Pitfalls Of Working With A Property Manager In Italy.
Using the services of a property manager in Italy can be incredibly helpful and allow you to leave the country without having to worry about looking after your house or apartment from overseas.
However, as with an industry, there are certain challenges and pitfalls that you should know about to ensure that your experience is as smooth as possible without any unnecessary hitches.
Knowing in advance what some of the main pitfalls of hiring a property manager are will help you to avoid them and where possible, mitigate their impacts on your investments and property income.
Hidden Management Fees.
One of the main problems that clients experience in the property management sector is the addition of hidden fees to your previously agreed payments. Property managers may add a whole range of hidden fees and if you don’t carefully study the small print of any contract you have signed you may lose potential income from your property. Always ask the property manager to clarify all the costs you may be liable for so you don’t have to absorb unforeseen fees further down the road.
Do You Have A Dedicated Contact?
Things can quickly get confusing if every time you call your property management company you end up talking to a different representative. It’s much easier if you can have one point of contact so you don’t have to get a new representative up to speed on the details of your property.
If you constantly have to deal with different representatives then you can also end up getting different answers to the same questions! While you are searching for a property manager you should ask them if you will be given a dedicated contact who will oversee all your property.
Is the Company Reputable?
Not all property management services in Italy are reputable and some operate in a very untrustworthy way, particularly with their overseas clients. This means that you’ll have to take extra care to read client feedback on the internet and read any reviews that you can find.
Another way that you can use to find a reputable property manager is to reach out to the Expat community to ask if they can recommend one that they have worked with before. This will give you the best feedback, especially since they are likely to be in a similar position to you.
When you’re dealing with a property manager in Italy there may well be issues with language barriers and confusion as a result of mistranslations. Therefore, while you’re making a decision about which property manager to use you should ensure that they provide a fully bilingual service so that you can speak to the company’s representative in English.
How Is Maintenance Managed?
Some property management companies have in-house staff that handle all their maintenance work while others use trusted third party vendors. There are pros and cons of each approach so it’s something that’s worth being aware of when you are selecting the right property manager for your requirements.
Always ask your property management how they handle maintenance and what the average costs are for any work that you expect your property might need in the future. It’s also a good idea to ask them how they generally try to keep costs down for maintenance work on your property.
How Frequent Are The Inspections?
It’s absolutely vital for property managers to regularly inspect your property so you need to get assurances of how often they take place. The most reliable way to find out how often they conduct inspections is to ask other people who they work with what they think about the service they receive. At the very minimum, your property manager should inspect your property once a month as well as before any new guest or tenant is moving in.
Process For Tenant Selection.
It’s important that your property manager choses reliable tenants and guests when they rent out your property on your behalf. This will ensure that your furniture and other items are not frequently damaged and will help to keep down the costs of maintenance in the long run.
Your property manager should run basic background checks on any tenants and make sure that they have the financial means to pay their rent since a mistake in this regard can be very costly!
Does The Property Management Firm Have A Good Website?
Many of the property managers in Italy have an extremely poor website which can make communicating with them difficult as well as confusing matters when you’re trying to understand the exact services they provide. In some cases, the property manager will not be able to give you a quote online and they often have a tough time with English.
Having said that, I would chose a property manager who has good reviews (not just online but from their clients and your trusted network) and can speak English over someone who has a great website. Websites in the United States (both government and non-government) by far are the best in the world. This is because Americans are very comfortable doing stuff online and American IT companies pay a lot of attention to user experience (I know because I work for one the biggest consulting companies in the world!!). This is very different in the rest of the world. India for example is an IT powerhouse. Most American IT companies outsource their work to India. Yet websites in India generally are poorly built. Same is the case in many European countries including Italy.
How Much Do Property Managers In Italy Cost?
Each property manager will have their own pricing structure and additional fees which they charge for extra services.
- Pricing As A Percentage Of Your Rental Income: As a general rule, a property manager will usually charge between 5-15% of the total monthly rent that they collect. If your property is empty between guests then they may charge a fixed rate for overseeing it in your absence.
- Pricing As A Fixed Monthly Rate: Some property managers charge a fixed monthly fee which can vary enormously. A fixed fee will usually be contingent on the type of property, its size and the amount of maintenance that it is expected to require; for example, managing a small city center apartment will be priced at a lower rate than a large rural villa.
- Pricing Per Hour: In other cases property managers will charge you per hour of work they conduct on your behalf. Once again, these costs will vary significantly depending on the type of work they are undertaking on your behalf and their own reputation in the industry. NOTE: This is the model that I use. The company that I work with has different hourly rates based on the individual involved. For example, cleaning the apartment after a short term rental is a lower hourly rate compared to fixing an electrical or plumbing issue. The property management company also pays all the utility and tax bills on my behalf. They charge a flat 5 Euro fee for every bill that they pay (the bills are sent directly to them and they process it and pay it on time). They send me a detailed statement every month.
- Additional Fees: All property managers will have a range of additional fees for arranging various services related to overseeing your property. Before you sign any contracts with them you should always ask for a full list of any additional fees that you can expect to pay for extra services that you may need in the future.
Property Management In Italy – Finding The Right Service For You.
It can be quite difficult to find a good, reliable and efficient property manager in Italy that charges reasonable fees for their services. However, if you ask around in the Expat community or on social media Expat groups you’ll be able to quickly get some useful tips and advice.
Beyond this you should also be doing plenty of research and spend plenty of time going through the contract with a potential property manager so you fully understand the services and the costs and fees that you can expect to pay.
Once you have found the right property manager you’ll be able to leave the country and your house in safe hands while maintaining a helpful passive income from renting it out in your absence.