From experience I would say that an agent is essential in the first year. This means the landlord has to follow regulations etc and you have a point of contact for disputes. If in the 2nd year you have built trust with the landlord then go private.All the agent really does is front for the landlord. The advantage of the agent is they will deal with more than one property. They can also help you with other issues like utilities etc. The agent will cost you €€€.
These days you can do some of the above by using the various internet property portals. But not all properties are on the websites even if the agent handling them is.
Not sure, we went through an agency for the house we are in now and that was a 12month contract and now we are private..If he's on a contract that's at least 3+2 or five years in total -)
All I can say about the complete dogs dinner that is brexit is nobody knows, its a waiting game for everybody. If you are going to wait for what happens with brexit to make a decision you will be waiting a long time..I have lived in Italy before ,i have a number of contacts around Verona. Previously i lived for a while at my parents who have now returned to the UK, and shared apartments that i had nothing to do with the 'paperwork '.
If i made the move back this time , i anticipate having to get my own place, although it is possible i could share again and just pay a share of costs.
I'm also concerned with Brexit. I withheld making a proper move from the UK about 14 months ago because of not knowing how this was going to play out. And looking at the latest developments on the news , i feel even less confident, although i suspect a deal for all expats will be put in place. ?