Relocation to Malta seems on paper very easy. But there are always the hidden extras that only an insider can let you know about. Patricia Graham, of ‘Up in Arms‘, an expat advisory and campaigning group, gives us some Top Tips on what to look out for when taking on a rental property in Malta. The contract is only part of the bargain; it’s the utility bills and rates that get expats here ‘up in arms’!
Vacation living isn’t like residency
You probably based your decision on relocation to Malta on many visits to these beautiful Islands. Vacationing and living in Malta are two entirely things so don’t base your choice of home on what suited you when here on holiday.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Finding a property is simple enough, though if you are planning on bringing your own furniture that can be tricky. Unfurnished properties are few and far between. So expect to haggle or expect to stash the unwanted furniture in a valuable spare room!
There are no standard letting contracts in Malta and there are no regulations governing the letting business. Caution and common sense will guide you well.
Agents & Companies
Be strict in your requirements. If you should choose to rent via a letting agent or Company be advised that there are no legal requirements for agents and many are not licensed, or required to hold a license.
Renter beware & know your rights
Always have your contract read through by a third party preferable a Lawyer and pay strict attention to your rights as tenants. Again since there are no regulations, tenants find that letting contracts are quite biased towards the Landlord. Check if the property is heated, cooled, well maintained and checks for tell-tale signs of mould. Check if heating/cooling appliances are part of the furnishings, for a furnished property.
VERY Important: before you sign
Before signing on the dotted line, it is important to know exactly what charges you will be paying for your utilities.
a) Ask to see the most recent bills regarding the property.
b) Ask if the property is billed at residential rate. Domestic rate is NOT residential. A slight play with words, but if you read nothing else of this article, this paragraph is the most important. The Domestic/non-residential rate is almost double the price of the residential rate.
c) Check the rate for yourself by noting the ‘consumer scheme’ on the right hand side of the bill. If it says ‘zero residents’ you are on, or will be on the wrong rate.
i) The Domestic rate is designed for second homes, rarely used homes. The rate is not designed for a Primary residence.
ii) The Domestic rate is NOT what all Maltese nationals pay and it is NOT what all non-Maltese Nationals pay.
iii) Many landlords will try to convince you of (ii) above as will many agents. They will also try to convince you that you need a residency card or have lived in Malta for a year in order to obtain the residential rate. This is wrong. All you require is a copy of your passport, your landlord’s signature and a copy of his ID card and all details entered onto Form H, (available for download on the Smart Utilities website (Automated Revenue Management Services portal). All of this can be sent by email.
iv) If do not have the above and the landlord refuses to endorse the Form H, then I personally would be tempted to find another property.
v) Read your own meters at least once a month and budget for the bills as billing is quite erratic and no one likes a surprise bill at the end of 3-4-5 months. There is a calculator on Smart Utilities website.
Remember, relocation to Malta can be great decision but while most of it is plain sailing, issues over property rentals can be the hardest to sort out. The confusion over utility charges is one of the most stressful. Don’t get yourselves on the wrong rate. If you have any further questions about this or any other topic relating to setting up a home here, please contact Patricia Graham.
Times of Malta (12.02.15) ‘Overcharged Consumers‘
Terry & Glynis Riley says
Patricia: I wonder if you can help me here. We rented a property in Xemxija on 11 December. 2014. We asked the Landlady to fill in the ‘H’ Form which she at the time refused to endorse so therefore for the first 3 x months January, February & March. 2015. we were charged and paid Domestic/Non Residental Rate 0 Residents. After 3 x months we paid Residential 2 Residents until our final payment on 11. November. 2015. This was calculated by means of the Arms Portal Calculator read from the meters in the Rented Property. Today we asked her for the Original Arms Receipt / Bill which she should have received for the last 11 months but she told us that she only had the estimated bill. I told her that we had been on Domestic / Non Residental for January, February and March but she said because we had not received our e Residency I.D. Cards during those months according to her Arms said we had to pay Domestic / Non Residency even though she had copies of our Passports. Is this correct or not and if it is not how do we resolve it. Kind Regards Terry & Glynis Riley
Alyson Bloodsworth says
My husband and I have rental property in the US.We are retired and live off our rental income.We would like to rent an apartment in Malta for 6 months and then come back to the US.Everything I read says only three months without a residency pass.I am not trying to be a resident,just a vacationer.How do we come to Malta for six months?(the long term rental rates are so much better)Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Elizabeth Ayling says
The rental procedures would be the same, as far as I know. So long as you have the right of residency (visa etc) as a third-country national sorted out then the rental issues won’t be different.
I would like to know if I’m not a European resident these procedures to rent something stills the same for me.
David Reiling says
amended – – – –
Once in the rental property be vigilant and keep an eye on the meters – record your usage and make it known if there are any major fluctuations to the usage – as a general rule you can easily say about 5 units of electric per day per person and water about 75-95 litres per day per person – any movement from these check them out very carefully – check for leaks at the tank on the roof, overflowing of cisterns internally – also check that the pipework and electric cables only supply the property you occupy – its not unheard of to have had your supplies tampered with / and secretively teed off so as to give someone free electric and water without your knowledge and at your expense.
Elizabeth Ayling says
David, thanks for this addition. I hope this post will be a running log of things to watch out for when renting. I’ll add this comment into the main body of the post, if I may.
David Reiling says
Also important to ensure that the property has an EPC Energy Performance Certificate – the Landlord MUST have one by law – failure in this leaves them liable to a fine of €500 up to €1500 fine… dont be fobbed off IT IS LAW AND HAS BEEN SINCE 2009.