We have got the pleasure to interview Mauro Lovecchio, an Italian living in Prague since 2012. His company operates in the field of real estate management and during these trying times he came up with a unique initiative: offering flats to people who are in need.
1- You have a post on Facebook offering your flats to people who are in need. How does the rental process work?
The idea came to me a couple of days ago after reading a post from an Italian citizen stranded in Austria. She needed to return to Prague but didn’t know how to deal with her compulsory quarantine, as she was sharing her flat with other people. Having several empty properties in Prague, it occurred to me that she could move into one for the duration of her quarantine.
My intention is not to speculate on the situation but simply to evaluate every single case and find a solution that works best for all parties. Mutual respect will be the foundation of the “rental process” as you put it I believe that in very special circumstances, such as this one, we should do what we can to mitigate the effects that this emergency will inevitably have on all members of our community.
2- How long you plan to offer properties on this basis?
Each case will be evaluated but I believe the flats will be empty for quite some time as we are only seeing the beginning of this crisis here in Prague.
Looking at what happened in China a month ago and what is going on in Italy right now, I have the feeling that people in Prague are only now starting to understand how serious the situation is and many are still underestimating it. My plan is to offer the flats until the state of emergency is revoked.
3- Where are they located around Prague?
The location of the properties should not be the priority at this stage but as they are usually used for tourists, they are all central. Right now I have availabilities in Karlin, Vinohrady, and Smichov.
Depending on the level of demand, I may try to involve some of my clients, who also have vacant accommodation, in the initiative.
4- How is the virus is affecting your business? Do you have some statistics?
The core business of my company in Prague is the management of properties, mostly through short term accommodation portals. The current situation has heavily impacted this sector and we are currently seeing 100% cancellations for at least the next two months, probably more.
The economic damage is relevant of course but our priority now is the well being of our employees, whose jobs will be secured regardless of the current crisis.
Unfortunately, there are companies cooperating with us for services like cleaning and laundry who will also be strongly affected by this situation.
In recent months, our business model has often been attacked by part of the administration of Prague which has been following a very populist agenda, often ignoring facts and reality. I hope that after this experience they may realise that short term accommodation can be a resource for the community and they will be willing to work together with us to find the best solution for all the parties involved.
A populist witch-hunt is the last thing we will need once this emergency is over, we will all be tasked with repairing the damage to our economy.
5- Can you tell us something about you, how long you’ve been living in Prague and what your company does?
I have a background in International Relations from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and in International Journalism from Cardiff University.
I first came to Prague in 2006 but it took me 7 years to finally decide to move here. I worked as a journalist for a few years, cooperating with Italian and international newspapers, including the Chinese Global Times. Although journalism is a beautiful and noble profession, it is not exactly the best when you have to raise a kid. So in 2013 I decided to get a “real job” and started a consulting business, mostly for Italian clients in Prague.
In 2016 I started my company, Studio Lovecchio. It is a small company that takes care of the interests of a selected number of clients. We mostly operate in the field of real estate management with properties in Prague, Italy, and Uzbekistan. We also work to promote Italian culture abroad, sometimes jointly running projects with the Italian Institute of Culture.