Home, the 3 Italian cities where it is almost impossible to find it at affordable prices

Home, the 3 Italian cities where it is almost impossible to find it at affordable prices


The right to housing, referred to in article 47 of the Constitution and reaffirmed in various sentences of the Consulta, risks becoming more and more a privilege for those who can afford it. An analysis carried out by Abitare Co. underlines how in the main Italian metropolitan cities an ordinary long-term rental contract has increased on average by 25.6%: Florence, for example, registers +35.3%, Bologna +28.5% , Turin +20.6%, Rome +19.9% ​​and Milan +17.4% (the lower growth of the latter two is connected to the fact that already in 2014 rents were on average higher than the others).

Each context has its own characteristics but there are problems that recur and one thing is certain: Italian salaries are at a standstill while inflation is galloping. Even the cost of houses risks excluding a huge portion of the population from buying and selling, creating a vicious circle in which many are forced to rent, aware that they will probably no longer be able to access the free market anyway.

The 3 most difficult cities:

The situation in Milan The case of Venice Rentals and purchases in Bologna Piazza Duomo in Milan MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

The situation in Milan

According to a survey by Immobiliare.it, Milan is the most expensive city in Italy for rent: a single room costs at least 620 euros (8.2% more than in 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic) and a place in double it reaches about half. Still remaining on the classifieds site and looking at the average price of residential properties in the city, it turns out that even if the by now much-mistreated middle class wanted to invest, it would remain cut off from most of the sales, with an average of 5,167 euros per square meter ( a minimum of over 2,500 for peripheral areas such as Bisceglie/Baggio, reaching almost 10,000 for the central and most requested areas).

The problem is that after passing even the imaginary wall of the ring road, the line that separates the center from the first suburbs of the city, you can get to 4,600 euros (Porta Vittoria/Corso Lodi area). Even the suburbs are not in better shape. Again according to a study by Immobiliare.it, in the last 2 years, the average price in the province of Milan reached its maximum in October 2022, with a value of 3,474 euros per square metre. Yet in the city under the Madonnina, houses do sell all right: anyone who has looked into buying a house in the Lombard capital knows very well that they are often sold before being able to make an appointment.

In fact, the average time it takes to sell a house in the Lombard capital is 52 days (as revealed by a research by the Tecnocasa group). "By now the suburbs are valued almost on a par with the centre, with the aggravating circumstance that there hasn't been an adjustment to wage inflation so Milan is becoming a city not only impossible for the poor but also for those gray segments of the population, like young couples, for example - says Carmelo Benenti of the Sunia tenants' union -. It's no longer just a problem for those applying for social housing, where in the face of almost 13,000 empty houses between Aler and the Milanese Metro [which manage social housing, ed.] we only had 600 housing assigned. Today the inclusiveness of Milan is at risk because it attracts foreign capital, but it is expelling all the other realities that have contributed to the constitution of the city itself. Evictions, for example, are continuously increasing after the blockade due to the pandemic ".

Even the various social housing projects that are springing up in the area "will not be enough to cover the housing needs of all those groups who are slipping into poverty today", continues Benenti. In October, the student collectives had organized protests against high rents (one of these in front of Palazzo Marino, the seat of the municipal administration). "Our right to study has now become a privilege, we can no longer tolerate exorbitant rental costs and expensive bills - explained the student collectives when launching the initiative -. In Italy there are 40,000 bed places compared to 421,000 off-site students". Among the requests made for greater use of the agreed rent and more public student residences. 

Based on the data of the preliminary calculations by the Affordable Home Observatory (Oca) and presented during a seminar promoted by the Workers' Cooperative Consortium (Ccl), a person with a net income of 1,500 euros per month (representative of around a quarter of income recipients in Milan) could afford – maintaining the installment of the twenty-year mortgage at 30% of income (which is internationally considered as the fair and bearable) to buy in Milan (excluding the historic centre) 18 square meters on the new market/energy class A or B, 24 square meters 31 square meters on the used market in good condition and 31 square meters on the used market for renovation.

Piazza San Marco in Venice JaCZhou 2015/Getty Images

The case of Venice

In Venice the the city has emptied itself of the middle class that lived there to make room for second homes for wealthy foreign tourists. “There is real difficulty finding rentals on the free market - says Giovanna Massaria, owner of Heim Immobiliare -. Because the market is saturated with those for tourists. There was a trend reversal during the pandemic, when there weren't any travel related to tourism, where someone managed to find a rental at market prices. Now we also have 20 calls a day from people searching and we are able to answer 1% of the request ” .

Before, the market was also made up of students, who by now “have resigned themselves to going to Mestre and it's a shame because they were a resource that kept the city alive - continues Massaria -. Today Venice is a city that is less and less experienced and more and more a place to be exploited dedicated to tourists and no longer to those who live there. Once we worked with the upper middle class, now we have almost only foreign tourists who, however, are not the social fabric of the city. They are artists attracted by the Biennale, who maybe stay in the city for one month a year but they are 90% of the real estate market in the city area” .

In fact, homes remain a luxury that no Venetian can afford anymore: already in the third quarter of 2022, the classifieds site Idealista placed Venice in fifth place for the highest average house prices (over 441,000 euros, after Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Alassio and Milan). However, the cost varies greatly from area to area "it can range from 3,500 to 6,000 euros per square metre, but can even reach 20,000 euros in the case of luxury homes" .

Then there are the short-term rentals, which also have a considerable weight here: the Ocio observatory, born in 2019 and made up of a collective of inhabitants and researchers who are interested in housing and housing in island Venice , has created an explanatory graph that shows how the constant growth of non-hotel accommodation facilities has exceeded those of hotels (and by a lot), recording a real surge from 2016 onwards (with a decline in 2020 due to the pandemic): "Although every single private accommodation has a lower accommodation capacity than a hotel, all private accommodation in any case covers the majority of beds in the overall accommodation offer" . According to the independent project Inside AirBnb, which analyzes the advertisements in the various cities on the famous platform, at the time of the almost 8,000 advertisements in the city, 77.4% are renting entire apartments.

The arcades of via Santo Stefano in Bologna. Julian Elliott Photography

Rentals and purchases in Bologna

From the data released by the University of Bologna for the 2020/2021 academic year, almost 70,000 students in the city were reached in the Emilian capital (90,000 in all, also counting other campuses) and almost half of them come from other regions. The housing problem, especially for young people who decide to study in the city, has been going on for years, so much so that last July the deputy mayor Emily Clancy announced the birth of the Observatory on the trend of the rental and tourist rental market as well as a agreement on the agreed rents (for which a contribution of 1.3 million has been foreseen to the owners, up to 3 thousand euros for the single, plus a one-off payment of 500 euros for accommodation where there are more advertisements from tourist platforms).

In practice, this is an average reduction of between 18% and 20% of the monthly rent for the benefit of the tenant, a sum that will be compensated by the municipality directly to the lessor. "The Observatory will be officially set up by the end of December - announces Clancy -. The idea is to put together studies and data on the phenomenon, combining those held by the municipality, the metropolitan city, the region, the urban innovation foundation, the university and the institution with which we manage the public assets of public housing, to have the most precise vision possible". At the moment, according to data from Immobiliare.it, rents in Bologna have increased by 16.7% when compared with last year's prices, resulting in paying over 400 euros for a single room.

But it is a market heavily addicted to short-term rentals. “In recent years in Bologna there has been an increase in the resident population in the city (+9,000 families) and an increase in non-resident students. The surge in renting on tourist platforms is then tangible: looking only at Airbnb in 2015 there were a thousand accommodations, in 2019 the maximum was reached with 4,500, to have a decline during the pandemic with a drop to 3,500 but now the trend it's on the rise again,” says Clancy.

Clancy needs a national law on the question of short-term rentals: “As a municipality, together with 15 other cities, we wrote a letter to the European Commission which replied by sending us a draft of the service regulation which, however, concerns the issue of data transparency, traceability of owners and accommodations. It is certainly an important first step, but it is not a law that will be issued at European level, setting limits, such as a maximum number of days or number of apartments attributable to a single owner". 

Looking at the Inside Airbnb site of the more than 3,600 listings, 71.9% concern entire apartments, which therefore leave the leases for those who would instead like to live in the city. "Our interest would be to regulate the phenomenon, distinguishing between those who make correct use of the home platform sharing and perhaps supplement their income by renting a room or an apartment and those who instead carry out a real entrepreneurial activity ”, explains the deputy mayor.

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