Renting a Property
A wide range of rental accommodation of various types is available throughout Malta, including short-term and long-term lets. Most rental properties come fully furnished and equipped. Electricity, water and telephone expenses may be additional to the rent, although they are often included in the rent for short-term lets.
For long-term lets, a month’s rent is usually payable in advance. This is held as a deposit against unpaid bills or necessary repair work, and is refunded if appropriate at the end of the let.
In general, monthly rental prices range from LM 70 (small apartment) to LM 500 (villa with private pool).
Rental prices vary between locations, with the highest being found in the Sliema and St. Julian’s areas, and lower cost accommodation available in Msida, Bugibba and the island of Gozo.
Buying a Property
Property in Malta is not cheap, but it is usually a very good investment. For several decades, the Maltese housing market has seen average annual gains of around 80%. Over the past two years, most properties have increased their value by at least 20%. Property owners who rent out houses or apartments on Malta usually earn a very good return. There are no property taxes or rates in Malta.
Anyone can buy property in the islands although a government permit may be required (see below). Maltese banks often offer mortgage facilities to non-Maltese nationals, subject to status.
Expatriates who take permanent residence in Malta are required by law to purchase a property there, which must cost at least LM 50,000 (LM 30,000 for an apartment), if they are not renting property for at least LM 1,800 per annum.
Now that Malta is an EU member, non-residents who are nationals of other EU countries can buy a first property in Malta at any price level, and a second property as long as this is for their own personal residence and if the purchase price of the second property is above LM 50,000 (LM 30,000 for an apartment). A permit is required from the Ministry of Finance for purchase of the second property unless the buyer has lived in Malta for more than 5 years. The minimum purchase prices may include the cost of renovation if this is necessary. Application forms for the purchase of property in Malta, and information on the property-buying regulations can be found on the Ministry of Finance website (www.aip.gov.mt).
Nationals of non-EU countries have to apply for a government permit to buy property in Malta, and are only allowed to purchase one property, unless it is in one of the specially designated areas for expatriate residence. These areas include the Portomaso Marina development in the fishing village of St. Julian’s, which includes luxury apartments and a yacht marina, and the apartment complex on the waterfront at Vittoriosa. No permit is required to buy property in a specially designated area.
Foreign nationals are only allowed to rent out specific types of properties in Malta: those in the specially designated areas, villas with private pools, and furnished houses or flats which the tourist authority classifies as “first class”.
There are many estate agents in Malta, and buyers can choose from a wide range of properties, from modern apartments with sea or harbour views, to farmhouses or traditional village properties with their own internal courtyards. The Valletta and Sliema areas are the most popular among house buyers, while the quieter Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay areas are also favoured by retired expatriates.
The starting prices range from LM 18,000 (2-bedroom apartment with harbour view) to LM 300,000 (large (4 bed) villa with large garden and pool).
The general procedures for buying property in Malta are:
• Once a suitable property has been found and an offer accepted, a preliminary agreement is signed, which commits both the buyer and vendor to complete the purchase under the agreed terms and conditions, provided good title is proved and a purchase permit obtained, if necessary.
• The buyer appoints a Notary Public to act on their behalf, and lodges a deposit of 10% of the purchase price with the Notary Public or estate agent. The deposit will be forfeited and paid to the vendor if the buyer fails to complete the purchase for no valid reason.
• During the validity period of the preliminary agreement (usually three months) the Notary Public carries out the title searches and submits to the Ministry of Finance the application for a purchase permit, if this is required.
• When the searches are complete and the permit obtained, the deed of sale is drawn up by the Notary. On signing the contract the balance of the purchase price, plus stamp duty and legal expenses are paid, and vacant possession is handed over.