Foreigners are usually surprised looking at the apparent red tape needed in order to secure an apartment for rent in Milan.
First you need to make several visits, agents act as salesmen and not so much as consultants, so you must rely on many of them. Once you find the place you like you need to present some docs about yourself and to "make an offer" the owner. Here we want to clarify the key aspects of this moment.
1 - The offer must include all your personal details, so it's normal that you are asked for a passport, and eventually the proof you are working or studying at a specific place
2 - The offer must show the monthly rent you are offering to pay the landlord, together with the non negotiable part of the building charges
3- The offer is targeted to the owner, NOT the agency, and eventual cheques or wire transfers are to be made to the owner directly. I strongly suggest to ak your agency for a visura catastale, an official doc showing you that the person you are dealing with and sending the money to is the real and official owner of the place.
4- Very important: the offer you present must show a deadline, few days is enough for a rent, please do your best in order not to be captured in those situations in which you made an offer and for weeks you are not able to look at other options as you are waiting for the owner's feedback
5 - If you leave money in form or cash or cheques to the real estate agent, ask for a receipt, so to be able to prove you gave them the money and you thus have the right to get in back in case the offer is not accepted by the counterparty.
6 - Another VERY IMPORTANT point: if you have any request in terms of structural modification or addicion in term of furniture you need to ask it in writing at this stage, the acceptance of your offer will be conditional to accepting all your request, don't leave these points to a meeting afterwards, the owner usually says that the agent told him nothing and you need to pay for all the modifications you need to the place.
Hope the above points are useful, as usual, for any need just drop us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org