If you’re considering renting out property in Malta, there are a few things you need to know about the country’s real estate laws. As a landlord, you’re responsible for making sure your property meets all the required standards and that your tenants have a safe and comfortable place to live. Knowing the ins and outs of Maltese real estate law will help you avoid any legal hassle down the road. Let’s take a look at some of the important points to keep in mind.
Starting from January 1st, 2020, all rental contracts must be legally registered with the right authorities. For contracts exceeding one year, landlords can no longer increase rental fees by more than 5% or more frequently than once a year. This move aims to establish greater fairness and control in the rental market. Under these new guidelines, minimum and maximum limits will be set for both long-term and short-term lets, respectively. Tenants can rest assured knowing that a certain degree of protection is now available to them when entering into a rental contract agreement. The new rent regulations are expected to bring much-needed balance and order to the rental sector in Malta.
The new law on private residential lease contracts has given certain protections to landlords and tenants, providing benefits for all involved. These three types of leases provide varying levels of protection for the parties involved, with full disclosure and protections being provided for each side. Tenants are provided a standard contract that clearly outlines all terms of the agreement and their rights and responsibilities in one document.
Landlords are assured that their legal rights will be respected and that any repairs or improvements to the property made during the tenancy must be approved by them and, in some cases, compensated for. This new legislation provides financial security for both parties, encouraging long-term rental relationships based on mutual trust, respect, fairness, and openness.
The law focuses on rental agreements of residential property entered into or renewed after 1st January 2020 as well as rental agreements of residential property entered into after 1st June 1995 and still in effect after 1st January 2021. There are three types of leases provided by this law:
The contracts that are not covered by the new reform are the following:
It is legally required that all new contracts and contract renewals between landlords and tenants in Malta must be registered with the Local Housing Authority. This registration process, which must be completed within ten days of the start of the tenancy, can be done online using the Housing Authority portal.
If forgotten or neglected by either party, it is up to the tenant to register their contract – but the additional costs end up being covered by the lessor regardless. In order to avoid any future legal entanglements and ensure that both landlord and tenant retain their rights after signing a tenancy agreement, it is always best practice to register with the PRL as soon as possible.
Under the new laws, improperly ending a rental contract will no longer be allowed, so due process must be followed. For landlords, this includes giving their tenants three months’ written notice via registered mail before the expiration of the contract. The time when a tenant needs to give the notice to terminate a contract varies depending on the length of the agreement; however, regardless of duration, it must be done in writing to the landlord. All parties must now abide by this stricter legal process to make sure that their contracts are properly terminated.
In the event that a contract is not longer than 12 months, renters may notify their landlord of termination after living in the premises for at least 6 months with 1 month’s notice. If there is an agreement of 24 months or more, tenants are expected to send a 2-month prior notification once nine months have elapsed. For any contracts 36+months long, a 3-month notice should be sent after 12 full calendar months have gone by.
As an additional right for tenants, the new regulations on rent make it an offense for a landlord to remove the tenant from their home without legal justification illegally. This law applies only to private residence rental contracts and not to those concerning room rentals.
The new rental laws passed to protect tenants from unfair and expensive rent increases are a great step toward protecting renters in their homes. With contracts outlining exactly what spaces are for the tenant’s exclusive use, tenants have a greater understanding of the entirety of their renting agreement. Additionally, landlords can no longer increase rental fees by more than 5% or more frequently than once yearly. This is extremely beneficial for those already struggling to pay rent, as now these tenants have some amount of security over the cost that they can expect to pay each year. The landlord is also obliged to provide the tenant with a receipt of payment.
The right of a landlord to evict tenants who fail to uphold the terms of their rental agreement cannot be denied. When tenants fail to make rent payments or stay in the leased home beyond the agreed duration, they can not be removed from a property by force. Instead, the landlord must take legal action and bring their dispute before the appropriate Rent Regulation Board. Furthermore, though the tenant cannot be forcibly evicted, they remain financially responsible for compensation in the form of rent until it is resolved and they are removed from the premises.
This doesn’t have to waive the responsibility of either party on any other factor that led up to this dispute, but it looks at getting both parties back on track with their agreement as soon as possible. The Chairperson of the Housing Authority, or any of their representatives, has the right to enter any rental homes at reasonable times to inspect said properties and confirm that tenants are occupying them.