Housing Referral services are available to all military personnel E-4 and above, DoD civilians under a transportation agreement, DoD contractors with a signed MOA/ISSA. DoD contractors not serving under a MOA/ISSA are entitled to translation assistance and utility and telephone services on a limited basis. All Personnel who will be required to lease a property from the local community must have a valid tourist or No Fee passport on hand upon arrival at NAS Sigonella.
Our Housing counselors will provide assistance on the following services:
- House hunting tours provide the opportunity to see available private rentals in the community. All listings of available rentals are pre-inspected for suitability and must meet minimum standards for safety and security before a contract may be negotiated through the Housing Department.
- Lease Negotiation: When you obtain your lease through the Housing Department, trained staff will help you negotiate a fair rental price, verify the presence of the Military Clause, and ensure compliance with Italian law. Rents are paid in Euro and range between €500 and €1,500 per month. Because rents are established in Euro, the equivalency in U.S. currency will fluctuate with the exchange rate.
- Translation Services: Assistance throughout the duration of your tour with all aspects of the unit you occupy, including maintenance service scheduling, utility billing discrepancies, clerical assistance, lease amendments, legal advice referrals and termination services.
- Mediation of landlord-tenant disputes.
- Assistance in arranging for utility contracts (including electricity and telephone) and ongoing liaison with utility companies throughout your tour.
- Temporary Loaner Furniture.
- Supplemental Full Tour Furnishings.
DOD Civilian Personnel (CIVPERS)
Due to the reduced availability of government housing, DOD CIVPERS are not eligible to reside in military family housing.
Upon arrival, report to the Housing Department to apply for economy housing. Housing personnel will assist you with locating a home in the local community. CIVPERS are authorized up to 90 days of lodging with your Temporary Quarters Substance Allowance (TQSA). It is very important that you communicate with your sponsor as quickly as possible upon receipt of orders. Your sponsor must know if you will be accompanied or unaccompanied, the size of your family, if you are bringing pets, etc. Answers to these questions will help him/her make appropriate advance reservations for accommodation.
Following your two-week indoctrination class, you will begin an aggressive search for permanent housing. Generally, you should have a lease contract and a move in appointment set by Day 30-45. Then arrange utilities, loaner furniture and household goods deliveries and expect to move-in within 3 to 5 days of signing the lease.
Hotel accommodations can be made at either the Navy Lodge or a hotel on the economy. While in a transient status, keep your receipts for hotel bills, meal receipts, dry cleaning, and other expenses. These receipts will be required when you file your reimbursement documentation. Taxi fares to and from the hotel and work and auto rentals are not reimbursable. Upon arrival, process in with the Human Resource Office (HRO), immediately to be briefed on living quarter's allowance (LQA) and TQSA entitlements.
Living on the economy
Locating a new home is the most important step towards enjoying your time in Sicily. Remember that the house you choose is where you will live for the next few years. Be judicious about your choice; if you are uncertain about anything, make it a point to ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers. Once you sign a lease for an Italian home, you will find it hard to break. Italian law requires you to notify your landlord 6 months in advance of breaking the lease. A 15 days notice should be provided to the landlord only in case the military clause applies. The contract is a binding, legal agreement and is not easily revoked without serious justification. CIVPERS and single E5 and above MILPERS, will be provided with assistance locating a home in the local economy.
Homes in Sicily are different from those stateside. There are apartments, in-villas (generally one floor of a house) and villas (single homes within a fenced perimeter) and are smaller than homes/apartments in the United States. Therefore, you should carefully limit the total weight and items being shipped. You should not ship American appliances (stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers or dryers).
Do a little research first!
It is helpful if your sponsor drives you around to see the different areas. Review maps, note distances from base, and ask about availability of school buses and condition of roads near each area in order to make an informed decision. Sicily has a relatively high unemployment rate. As a result, house and car break-ins and theft can be a problem. Consider, however, that many times the reported cases have involved the "victims" leaving some very expensive items on the front seat of their car in open view. The problem is real and you need to be aware of it and take it into account when looking for a home.
Word-of-mouth among co-workers is a good way to find a house or select an area. If you find a house on your own, provide housing personnel the landlord's name, phone number and address of the home. Housing personnel will contact the landlord and follow up with the required inspections. Then, an appointment will be made with the landlord, housing representative, and the member to negotiate and sign the lease contract. Rental contract negotiators at the Housing Department are bilingual, and are familiar with Italian real estate customs and law.
Throughout the process if you are uncertain about anything, ask questions. At the time of the contract signing, you must pay to the landlord the equivalent of two months rent in euro (first month’s rent and security deposit). The deposit will be returned to you less any amounts deducted for damages when the lease is terminated.
Notes on economy housing
In order to provide customers with a higher quality of life during their stay in Sicily, the Housing Department conducts researches on the local real estate market, conducts inspections and places available houses on the adequate listings; only those units that meet specific safety and security requirements and standards such as: water reserve, independent heating system, light fixtures, at least one (1) A/C unit, alarm system or metal bars if ground floor, furnished kitchen and bathroom, gas detectors, etc.
In Italy, an unfurnished apartment means that the tenant provides almost everything including wardrobe closets, kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, medicine cabinets and other items. The Housing Department maintains an inventory of items to include all of the above items. Others are available on the local economy or from departing personnel. Most of the properties listed with the Housing Department have central heating; however, apartments and villas in Sicily are hard to heat due to poor insulation. Some people use space heaters in addition to central heating.
Utilities are rarely included in the rent. A "condominium fee" may be charged, in addition to the monthly rent.
At this time, TELECOM ITALIA is the only reliable company that offers landline services throughout the Italian territory. A contract is initiated with the assistance of Housing Department.
Your telephone bill
1. Bills are issued every two months. All bills include a flat fee plus taxes.
2. Telephone calls are calculated on the following factors: length of call, distance, and the time and day that the calls are placed.
3. Telephone calls from your home phone to cell phones can be expensive.
Note: In addition to phone service fees and equipment rental fees, your bill will include a charge for the "scatti" (units) you have used over the billing period. Phone calls are billed according to how many units you use. A unit does not represent a single phone call but rather it is a mix of distance called and time called. Calls to cellular phones may cost more than making international calls, depending on the time of day they are made. Special rates are available and will be explained in detail by the Housing Department.
All Italian electricity is 220 volts, 50HZ. Therefore, you will need a transformer to convert electricity for stateside appliances and adapters for Italian outlets, which are round-pronged. An important point to remember is that heat generated by a 60 Hz motor operating on 50 Hz can be a safety hazard. This problem is most critical with refrigerators. While most other motors are only used periodically or, by design, can get rid of heat, most refrigerators tend to build up heat. Electric supply is measured in kilowatts. Depending on the size of your dwelling, the number of water heaters, your family's size, your usage patterns and the number of electric appliances you operate, the number of available kilowatts you need will vary. Electric contracts can be written for a three, four and a half or six kW supply to accommodate your individual needs. Standard homes in Italy require a three KW supply. This supply is also the most economical. The Housing Department will assist you in determining your needs. But be aware: electricity in Italy is expensive!
Your ENEL (electricity) bill
ENEL (the main Italian Electric company) sends bills every two months, but reads your meter only about twice a year. In between readings, ENEL will send you estimated bills, based on historical patterns of usage. This practice shall result in a high bill when the actual reading is taken by ENEL. The Housing Department recommends you take the initial ENEL meter reading and forward it to the Utilities Branch upon receipt of your first electric bill. At this time, we will ensure that your contract was initiated with the correct reading and explain when to submit your readings to us. This practice shall prevent you from receiving bills that you may have difficulty paying. You should learn to estimate your own usage and set aside sufficient funds; a safe estimate is 28-euro cents per KW used.
Central Heating/City Gas
Should you select a house/apartment with piped gas for independent heating you shall be required to take over the gas contract and stipulate it under your name. This is done with the assistance of the landlord, directly at the gas company. It is recommended to take the initial reading and keep track of your usage because some small gas companies issue bills based on estimates instead of actual consumptions. It is also recommended to set the timer of the furnace to shut off the heat when the sun is out and when you are not home and to keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, not at the max. Gas is expensive and the price per cubic meter goes up the more you use, so please keep that in mind.
Should you select a house/apartment with a GPL tank, you are required to schedule the appointments to have it supplied. Fuel oil is more expensive than city gas. However, if the tank is AGIP you shall be authorized to receive tax-free coupons from MVRO and schedule fuel delivery at the NEX. This is a key point when house hunting!
The water contract remains under the name of the landlord at all times. In most cases, the landlord pays only the water flat-fee and the resident is responsible for any over-usage. The cost of water is subject to variation on the basis of housing areas, cubic meter consumption and price of water established by the supply company. When you are asked to pay a water bill, we recommend that you ask for a copy of the bill and forward it to the Utilities Branch to ensure you reimburse the landlord the correct amount.
Temporary Loaner Furniture is available and may be kept for up to 90 days while awaiting your personal household goods shipment. Temporary Loaner Furniture consists of beds, nightstands, dressers, sofa, armchairs, end tables, lamps, coffee table, dining table and dining chairs. It is important that you utilize your unaccompanied baggage shipment to ensure timely arrival of items such as cooking and eating utensils, sheets, blankets, etc. Please note: Italian beds are sized differently than U.S. beds, therefore, flat are preferable to fitted sheets for use on your temporary bed until your own bed arrives.
Full Tour Supplemental Furnishing is available for the duration of your tour. In order to be eligible you must have a signed lease contract negotiated through the Housing Department.
Although stock levels are sufficient to meet the demand, members are urged to request only items needed to complete the household. Members will be placed on a waiting list for items not available at the time of their request. The list will be prioritized by the date the lease was signed, but follow-up is the member's responsibility.
When those items become available, Housing personnel will contact the member to schedule a delivery appointment. Members requesting additional out-of-stock items after initial delivery will be placed on the bottom of the waiting list. The furniture section needs five working days notice to schedule furniture delivery or pick up. Any cancellation of a scheduled delivery, service call, or pick up requires at least one working day notice, or you may be charged for the service. There will be charges for missed or canceled appointments. The variations in the charges are related to the various types of moves (Light or normal/weight, routine or urgent).
Make sure your electricity and gas are activated during the delivery so that the delivery personnel can complete the required work (i.e., testing appliances). The contractors will not make additional trips to complete the work.
Furniture and equipment will be clean and in working condition. Many of the items that will be delivered are not new, and scratches or dents are not grounds for refusal of the item. Damages to the items should be noted on the delivery receipt to avoid being charged for prior damage on pick up later.
To schedule delivery and pick up contact the Housing Welcome Center at DSN 624-4311 ext 105. For appliances’ service calls, contact the Furnishings warehouse at 624-2338.
Furnishing Items Available
In addition to the 90-day temporary loan program, there is also a Full Tour Appliances/Furniture Program designed to get you started in your new house or apartment. Some items, sizes, and quantities vary between the family and bachelor programs. Check with the Furnishings Branch at the Housing Department for more details:
A. Stove: one per household, white, American brand 21" or 30" (note: not all apartments have room for the 30" stove) size gas oven.
B. Refrigerator: one per household.
C. Washing Machine: one per household. Top loading American washer max 28" wide or a smaller Italian model, which is 21" wide.
D. Dryer: one per household. You will be required to provide your own hose, which is an inexpensive item and covered with your MIHA.
E. Wardrobes: two doors, one shelf, one clothing rod.
F. Transformers: A full set comprised of three units for accompanied (1,500W, 1,000W, 750W) and two units for unaccompanied (750W). All transformers have one 220V male plug and one 110V female plug. Additional transformers may be authorized upon request when inventory is available.
G. Carbon monoxide detector: One per household.
H. 220V Microwave.
I. Satellite Dish and AFN Decoder. Installation cost is the member’s responsibility. (Note: satellites will only work with a multi-system television).