A certificate of housing suitability is a document attesting the habitability of a housing, i.e. that it meets the minimum safety requirements foreseen by the law. This certificate is required as part of the administrative procedures of residence permits applications for non-EU citizens.
Housing suitability in Italy
In order to ensure that the accommodation of foreign nationals applying for a residence permit in Italy complies with the legal requirements for housing, the Italian government requires foreigners the applicant to proof that their housing is suitable.
What is a suitable accommodation?
To be considered suitable, a dwelling must have been built according to the necessary housing parameters to accommodate a maximum number of inhabitants without endangering their health.
If the housing meets these parameters, it can be considered suitable.
What is meant by adequate housing?
Among the parameters necessary for housing to be considered adequate are:
- The lighting and ventilation criteria of the rooms;
- The square footage (understood as the number of square meters) sufficient and proportional to the number of people occupying the housing unit;
- The minimum ceiling height;
- The certification of conformity of the heating systems;
- The certification of conformity of electrical and plumbing systems.
In addition to the above-mentioned parameters, authorities usually want to ascertain the proper connection of the domestic utility supply with the dwelling unit.
Certificate of housing suitability
A foreign national who is required to prove to the authority responsible for issuing a residence permit that he or she has a suitable housing may do so by submitting a certificate of housing suitability.
What is housing suitability certificate in Italy?
The certificate of housing suitability certifies the habitability of the accommodation in which the foreign national lives, i.e. it certifies that the accommodation meets the minimum sanitary and hygienic requirements foreseen by law.
In addition, the certificate identifies the maximum number of people who can inhabit it, based on the square footage and the units services.
Who issues the certificate of housing suitability?
This certificate is issued by the municipality where the property is located, or by another affiliated institution. Usually, the application forms as well as the channels for transmitting the application can be downloaded on the institutional web page of the relevant municipality.
Who can apply for a certificate of housing suitability?
The application for housing suitability must be submitted by the person who has a title on the property whose suitability needs to be certified.
For example, it can be submitted by the property owner, or by its tenant or co-tenant. Alternatively, it can be submitted by another guest or resides or is domiciled in the property.
Who fills out the housing eligibility?
The application for certification of housing suitability is filled out by the person who has title on the property.
The actual certification, on the other hand, is issued by the municipality which, in its assessment aimed at issuing or not issuing the certification, refers to the current Italian regulations.
What law defines the minimum height and sanitary requirements of living quarters?
The law that defines these parameters is the Ministerial Decree of May 5th, 1975, as clarified also by the Ministerial Circular of November 18th, 2009, No. 7170. This law aims at ensuring uniform interpretation throughout the Italian territory.
How large does a room have to be to be considered habitable?
The minimum levels of living spaces and room composition are:
- Are per inhabitant
- 1 inhabitant – 14 square meters
- 2 inhabitant – 28 square meters
- 3 inhabitant – 42 square meters
- 4 inhabitants – 56 square meters
- For each successive inhabitant + 10 quare meters
- Room composition
- Bedroom for 1 person – 9 square meters
- Bedroom for 2 persons – 14 square meters
- a living room of 14 square meters
What is the minimum height that rooms must have?
Accommodations must have a minimum height of 2.7 meters that can be waived to 2.55 meters for certain geographic areas, and 2.4 meters for corridors, bathrooms, hallways and storage rooms.
In addition, the regulations define the parameters of ventilation and heating of rooms.
When a certificate of housing suitability is needed
The housing suitability certificate is required by the local immigration office as part of applications for residence permits for the following cases:
- Family reunification (Art. 29 Immigration Law), including also the case of “family cohesion” (Art. 30 Immigration Law);
- Application for UE long-term resident permit (former “Carta di soggiorno”) for family members (Art. 9 Immigration Law);
- Signature of the residence contract with one’s employer (Art 5 bis Immigration Law), including cases of extra quotas permits, such as the blue card, the intracompany transfer visa and the other categories of ”extra quota” permits.
On the other hand, the certificate is not required in case of residence permit renewal or in the case of family reunification of a single child under the age of 14.
When is housing suitability not needed?
Even in the cases listed above, there are some situations where a certificate of housing suitability is not needed.
For example, if the applicant is staying at a serviced accommodation (i.e. hotel or serviced apartment). In such cases, the certificate can be replaced by a confirmation of the hotel reservation. The reservation document should clearly state the name of the foreigner applying for the residence permit and the reservation period.
Application for housing suitability
How to obtain the certificate of housing suitability online?
Italian municipalities tend to issue such certification in paper format, subject to an appointment to deliver the necessary documents to the competent office.
In some cases, however, delivery of documents can be made via e-mail or through certified email.
How to apply for housing suitability?
The application is made of the following steps:
- Delivery of the necessary documents to the competent office;
- Protocolling by the competent office with release of the appropriate receipt;
- Issuance of the final certificate.
Although the issuance of the final certificate may take up to several months, the receipt of the application is normally sufficient to properly process the immigration paperwork.
In some cases, a visit to the property by a municipality officer may be necessary, in order to verify the parameters declared in the application.
What documents are needed for housing suitability?
Documents required for the application submission usually include:
- The completed application form
- A copy of the title on the property (i.e. the purchase contract or a duly registered lease agreement)
- A declaration in lieu of affidavit, regarding the housing equipments
- A copy of the cadastral plan showing the intended use of the housing
- A copy of the applicant’s valid documents
- Proof of payment of administrative fees and/or stamp duties where applicable
The specific documentation may vary from municipality to municipality, so it is advisable to inquire on the institutional website of the municipality where the housing is located.
How long is the housing suitability certificate valid?
The Ministerial Circular No. 3 dated April 17th, 2012, clarified that the housing suitability certificate – beyond the nomen juris used (in fact, it is often referred to as “certificate” in an inappropriate manner) – represents an attestation of technical compliance issued by a municipality technical office.
The circular therefore clarifies that the housing suitability is not a certificate and therefor:
- It cannot be replaced by a self-declaration, and
- It is subject to what defined by Article 41 of Presidential Decree No. 445 of December 28th, 2000:
“certificates issued by public administration attesting statuses, personal qualities and facts not subject to variation are valid indefinitely. The remaining certifications are valid for 6 months from the date of issue if legal or regulatory provisions do not provide for a longer validity.”
In this regard, one the one hand, the interpretation adopted by most municipalities is that these attestations do not expire, but they must be renewed whenever the habitability characteristics or sanitary conditions of the housing change.
On the other hand, the immigration offices tend to request a certificate not older than 6 months.