Showing posts from 2012

Budget 2013 to address tourism / self catering licensing issues

The next Budget will address the current licensing system that is being bypassed by many self-catering accommodation spots in Gozo, putting those acting in line with the law at a disadvantage, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said this morning. The minister was speaking during a pre-budget consultation business breakfast at the Kempinski Hotel in San Lawrenz.

Read the full article on The Times of Malta online, here.

Less bureaucracy in Trade Licence and MEPA requirements, for new businesses in Malta

People opening a new business which is not health or food related will no longer have to apply for a licence with the Trade Department following changes to the licensing process aimed to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency.

The changes were announced this morning by Small Businesses Minister Jason Azzopardi. The minister said that after obtaining the Mepa permit, a business owner would only have to notify the Trade Department that he was about to start the new commercial activity.

The businessman could do this up to 30 days after embarking on the new operation. The minister said he estimated that around 80 per cent of new commercial activities would benefit from this simplification.

Another new rule aimed to reduce bureaucracy is that when a new commercial activity is embarked upon, one would not have to submit copies of the Mepa certificates and floor plans but just the number of the Mepa permit.

The minister said that through these changes, the government was showing that it…

High-end apartments fuel property price increases - CBM quarterly review

Property prices in the first three months of this year rose by 5.5% on a year earlier, the Central Bank has found, on the basis of its survey of advertised prices. Prices also rose by 6.1% in the previous quarter.
The increase in the overall property price index over its year-ago level was primarily a result of developments in the market for apartments, the bank said. Apartments saw an annual increase of 8.7%. The main reason behind this relatively strong growth was the increased number of advertised upmarket properties in high value areas compared with previous years.

During the first quarter of 2012, asking prices in the “other” category, which consists of townhouses, houses of character and villas rose by 4.1%. This increase was largely a result of higher asking prices for houses of character. Prices of villas and townhouses also increased; however, their impact on the headline rate was more contained.
On the other hand, asking prices for maisonettes were marginally down over th…

Interest-subsidy scheme for first-time buyers purchasing from private sector in Malta

The government has announced a limited one-year interest subsidy scheme for first time buyers wishing to purchase a house from the private sector. The scheme was announced by Justice Minister Chris Said and will be open for the first 300 applications.

They will benefit from an interest subsidy of up to 2.5% on borrowing from the banks of up to €80,000. The savings could reach €14,500. Dr Said said the subsidy would be given for a period of between eight and ten years. The scheme would be administered by the Housing Authority.

Source: The Times of Malta online

LN to enable property owners in Malta to regularise in accordance with sanitary law.

A legal notice to enable owners of dwellings who have an existing structure, which is not in accordance with sanitary law, to regularise their position against an administrative fee will come into affect on August 1. The legal notice covers the size of internal and back yards, floor to ceiling height and rooms built in the backyard. These concessions only apply to development built before the coming into force of these new measures, on August 1.

If the size of the internal or backyard was not constructed according to sanitary regulations, the concession will be permitted as long as the length of any side is up to 65 per cent of that required by law and the overall area of the yard is more than 65 per cent of what was originally approved.

If the length of any side is between 60 and 65 per cent and the overall area is within that range, the plans of the dwellings could be considered acceptable subject to an engineer report stating that the rooms had adequate lighting and ventilation. T…

Environmental Indicators show sharp increase in construction waste

Waste generation in 2010 increased by 48% compared to the previous year, mainly due to a sharp increase in construction waste, a Mepa Environmental Indicators report issued today shows.

The report says that construction and demolition waste had increased after having declined by 70% between 2008 and 2009. Municipal waste declined by 10 percentage point to 17.2% while hazardous waste declined from 4.8% to 2.5%.

Mepa chairman Austin Walker said the increase in construction waste stemmed from a spike in building permits in previous years. He said the amount of waste which was was being recycled had increased from 4% in 2009 to 7.7% in 2010.

The Environmental indicators also show that last year the number of permits issued for housing units declined from a high of 11,000 in 2007 to just 3,995 last year. Malta last year exceeded the EU standards on particulate matter in the air on a number of days, mainly in Msida, one of the areas having the heaviest traffic flows in Malta. However leve…

Code of ethics for Maltese notaries being drawn up

The Notarial Council is in the process of drafting a code of ethics for notaries after recent amendments in the notarial law established the duties of notaries that were never defined by law.
Minister for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers Jason Azzopardi earlier today presented warrants to 14 new notaries. He said that the amendments in the law ensure that European notaries who would like to practice in Malta must know how to write and speak Maltese as well as English. He said that in this way, Government safeguarded national interests.

Source: di-ve news

Tougher checks on home loans - "Banks will bear costs"

People taking out home loans will face tougher checks under new plans unveiled by Brussels.

The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has approved proposals aimed at strengthening both the rights and obligations of consumers on mortgages.

According to these rules, those taking out a home loan will have to be scrutinised more closely to make sure they can repay their loans while banks and financial institutions will have to be clearer on the information they give to clients before lending them money.

The new rules also introduce a new cooling-off concept, where clients will be given a chance to change their mind.

The EU’s mortgage market is valued as €6 trillion or 52 per cent of the EU’s GDP. Malta’s banking sector is highly exposed to the mortgage market, which is estimated to make up the bulk of the island’s local banking business.

The aim of the new rules is to give consumers taking out mortgages greater protection. The main elements include a more efficien…

Malta Property Price Index and Property Volume Index: Q1/2012

In the first quarter, the All-Property Price Index increased by 1.6 per cent. This primarily reflected a rise of 1.7 per cent in the apartments index, compared to the corresponding quarter last year. The maisonettes index went up by 6.0 per cent.

The All-Transactions Volume Index showed that the number of transactions in the first quarter of 2012 decreased by 6.7 per cent when compared to the corresponding period last year.

Read the full document published by the NSO (National Statistics Office - Malta) June 1, 2012, here.
Press the "Comments" link within the document, for same day related press coverage.

Malta plans for property value index

Family Minister Chris Said has set up a working group to propose a framework for a Market Property Value Index. This “transparent” mechanism would act as the national baseline to determine a fair market sale or rental value for any type of property in any particular area in Malta.

The working group will be made up of representatives from the Chamber of Architects, the College of Notaries, the GRTU, the Real Estate Association, the Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise and government entities. Dr Said made the announcement during a conference on Property Valuation Standards organised by the Chamber of Architects earlier this week.
“I am confident that salient work will be carried out in this regard and I look forward to the recommendations that will be presented,” he said.

He said discussions with banks and real estate agencies showed the increasing popularity of renting. But since the rental market was still in its infancy there was very little market intelligence for investors, financi…

Brits want out of Europe's crisis-hit countries says HiFX

British buyers are looking to offload their property in Europe’s crisis-hit countries according to new data from forex firm HiFX.

 Its research revealed that 39% of Brits wish to sell up in Greece, while 34% in Spain and 23% in Portugal plan to do the same.

Mark Bodega, marketing director at HiFX, said: "As many European governments tackle their deficits, second-home owners, especially those based overseas, have become easy targets for tax increases and as a result many are selling up and returning their assets to the UK."

Knight Frank’s head of international residential development James Price added that U.K. buyers are now looking for long-term security rather than short-term success. "What people are looking at now is the security of their asset in the long term," he said.

Source: OPP Connect 29th. May 2012

Urban Conservation rental properties to benefit from reduced Government taxes

The government in the next few weeks will announce a scheme of reduced tax where properties in urban conservation areas are rented out, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said today. He was speaking as the government launched a scheme whereby heirs can transfer their share of properties in urban conservation areas to one heir who would be responsible for their restoration. In so doing the heirs would be exempted from the 5% duty on the transfer of the property.

The scheme, originally announced in the Budget, is the second phase of another scheme where the government is issuing rebates of up to 20% on the cost to restore grade I and grade II scheduled properties in urban conservation areas. That scheme had attracted 800 requests for information, but so far only 95 applications have been submitted. Details of the new scheme were announced by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech and Environment Minister Mario de Marco.

The new scheme applies only to 2012 and 2013. Dr de Marco said the new scheme s…

Malta Developers Association warns defaulting property developers

The Malta Developers Association has warned its members it would publish the names of developers who failed to honour commitments with clients unless the situation was rectified.

In a statement the association said it had received a number of complaints from people who bought apartments with the condition that the developer had to finish the common parts in an indicated time frame and subsequently this work was not carried out.

In some cases buyers completed the finishing works inside the flat but their property could not be used since the developer failed to honour his commitments.

“MDA feels that this conduct is a breach of its members’ code of ethics, shows lack of seriousness and gives a bad name to all developers.

“The association is striving as much as it can to ensure that its members act in a serious and professional way, and is not going to tolerate those who, through such conduct, give a bad impression on all developers in general.”

It warned developers that, if these circu…

Treasure Island? - Malta feature on OPP magazine

The Overseas Property Professional magazine's May 2012 edition, features a special report on Malta.
The magazine can be read online here:

MEPA rejects Portomaso extension through Chairman's casting vote

A controversial extension to Portomaso was turned down by the Mepa board this afternoon after chairman Austin Walker used his casting vote.

The board members were tied with six votes in favour and six against after a four-hour debate held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre before a crowd of some 100 people.
The discussion revolved mainly around a clause in the previous Portomaso permit which stated that no further extension or development could be carried out in the area.
However, the legal representatives and the architects of the Fenech family, who want to develop the land, argued that the local plan approved 10 years later included this particular site as suitable for development.

A number of NGOs and neighbouring residents insisted that the permit condition was very clear and could not be superseded.
Various environmental concerns were also raised.
Mr Walker criticised the decision to include the condition in the first permit precluding further development saying that the han…

"MEPA's strategy flawed" - Malta Developers Association

The Malta Developers’ Association believes the planning authority’s Strategic Plan for Environment and Development is flawed as it is not based on “hard facts”. The paper refers to the serious issue of vacant properties as a guess estimate Submitting its feedback on the proposed plan (SPED), the association said this should have been finalised for consultation after the national census results were made public. It said launching the strategic plan before the results of the census was contradictory. “One cannot define proper objectives as the draft document sets out to do without first scrutinising the current situation,” the MDA said. “The examination of the current situation is therefore flawed as it is not based on hard facts because these are not yet in hand.” Martin Scicluna, director general of The Today Public Policy Institute, called the plan flawed in his Talking Point in The Times on Tuesday. The SPED proposals had one major deficiency in that they took scant account of Malt…

'Discerned' market value of properties, resulting in higher tax claims on purchased property - Malta Developers Association

Malta Developers Association: Government refusing to acknowledge fall in property prices.
MaltaToday Wed 18, 2012 - Duncan Barry

The president of the Malta Developers Association has claimed government-appointed architects are being "guided" by the Inland Revenue Department on the 'discerned' market value of properties, resulting in higher tax claims on purchased property.

Michael Falzon, a former Nationalist minister, has suggested that buyers and vendors who find bargain properties in the current dampened market are being taxed on the difference between the bargain price and the discerned market price.

"Although government officially says the Inland Revenue does not instruct these architects about valuations, I know for a fact that the department unofficially gives them guidelines on how much the discerned market value of, say a garage or a flat, should be...

"It is as if one buys a suit from a sale, and the customer is expected to pay VAT on the original …

New scheme to encourage use of old buildings

The government is to announce a scheme, including tax incentives, aimed at encouraging people to put unused building to use, Tourism and Environment Minister Mario de Marco said today.

Speaking on TVAM, Dr de Marco said one of the major reasons why buildings remained unused was the fact that they were inherited by a number of people and no decision was therefore taken on its use. Under the scheme, people who inherited such buildings would be encouraged to decide on assigning responsibility for the use of the building to one person. Tax incentives would be given on the building.

It was also being proposed, Dr de Marco said, that incentives would be offered for the use of large, old buildings. Such buildings, he said, were today unsuited for use as residences but they could be used as offices or, say, boutique hotels. The incentives would apply where such old buildings are reused for purposes which are compatible with residential areas.

The scheme is expected to be published in the comi…

Mistra Heights' land to be auctioned, valued at €5.6 million

The land in Xemxija that was to be the site for the massive Mistra Heights apartment complex will go under the hammer, after Ausrtian bank Bawag called in a €42 million loan against developers JPM Brothers.

The land has been valued at €5.6 million and covers a total area of 3,215 square metres.

The land will be sold by court auction in the Valletta law courts.

Unprecedented in Maltese banking history for the value involved, the €42 million loan was signed between Bawag and Gemxija Crown Ltd, the developers of Mistra Heights: 868 residential units in tower blocks of up to 11 storeys high on the site of the former Corinthia Mistra Village, in Xemxija.

Gemxija is jointly owned by a subsidiary of Kuwaiti real estate giant Al Massaleh, and JPM Brothers.

Massaleh's chairman Najeb al Saleh is also a shareholder in investment bank Fimbank, and is currently in talks to sell Massaleh's 38.8% share to Burgan Bank.

Works at Mistra were already at a standstill in 2009, when JPM owners Jeff…

Government to cover 15.25% of expenses on installations of roof insulation and double glazing.

A scheme to encourage roof insulation and double glazing has been launched.

Resources Minister George Pullicino said that everyone installing roof insulation or double glazing between now and the end of the year would be given assistance of up to 15.25 per cent of the expense up to a maximum of 1,000 euros.

One could apply for the scheme through a form obtainable from the Malta Resources Authority. The government is investing 400,000 in the scheme.
The minister launched the scheme during a visit to a glass factory at Mriehel.


Letter to The Times of Malta - Insight into the property market

Letter to The Times of Malta, from Francis Raeymaekers, Mellieħa.
Date of publication: March 28, 2012

I refer to the editorial Mixed Messages From The Property Industry (March 21) and as a director of one of Malta’s few property search companies would like to make some observations.

The Maltese construction sector is in the doldrums for two significant reasons: lack of funds and greed. Greed as typified by substandard construction where corners are systematically cut in the quest for ever greater “paper” profits. Some glitzy developments built with no or little ventilation, window fixtures installed with foam guns, and so on and so forth. Greed, as typified by overdeveloping developments, constantly adding to the current stock by clever manipulation and re-application of planning permissions. All impact the resaleability of the developments, creating substantial overhang and despair for owners who made the error of buying in the first place. The word gets out and funding dries up. The…

High interest shown in Malta Housing Authority Rental Scheme

The Housing Authority has received a strong response to the new scheme that entices people to offer their vacant properties up for rent to provide a home for the 535 people on the waiting list.

So far, owners of more than 500 properties have expressed interest in the scheme which opened on February 27 and closes on April 30.
The authority is, however, expecting a surge over the next few weeks when property owners start receiving compliance certificates from the planning authority confirming their properties were built according to permit.

A spokesman for the authority said that, through this scheme, owners of vacant houses or apartments in Malta and Gozo may lease their property to the authority at a withholding tax rate of five per cent instead of the usual 35 per cent rate.

The property will then be rented out by the authority to its clients for a minimum of 10 years.
Among the conditions is that the property has to be finished, has been empty for the last six months and has a month…

The Times of Malta Editorial - Mixed messages from the property industry

Source: The Times of Malta Editorial - March 21, 2012

It is increasingly difficult for ordinary people to understand what is really happening in the property development market. Economic statistics published recently indicate that “the construction sector’s contribution to the economy has been shrinking over the past four years”. On the other hand a leading estate agency “saw an overall increase of 12 per cent in sales of property and an equal increase in letting last year”. So what is really happening in the property market?

An analysis of this market has to start with an examination of the current supply and demand dynamics of this industry. There are various estimates of the amount of properties available for sale at present. Michael Falzon, president of the Malta Developers’ Association, confirms that “there are a lot of units for sale from oversupply that was built over the years”. Unofficial but reliable estimates put the figure of vacant properties at between 50,000 and 70,000 …

Three year slump in Malta property sales, reversed - More foreigners buying property

The number and value of properties purchased by foreigners increased significantly last year, reversing a three-year slump in the sector, according to figures obtained by The Times.

But, while Finance Minister Tonio Fenech welcomed the results as evidence that economic growth was attracting foreigners to purchase “property of quality”, realtors said the €186,000 average price of these properties was “nothing to write home about”.
According to the figures, foreigners bought 994 properties in Malta and Gozo in 2011 – a significant increase over 2010, when foreigners bought 886 such properties.
Most significantly, the €185 million total value represents a 20 per cent increase over the corresponding 2010 and 2009 figures, when properties sold to foreigners fetched approximately €146 million. While the number of foreign-bought properties is yet to reach 2008 levels, foreigners spent practically as much money on domestic real estate last year as they did in 2008.

MEPA gives go ahead for MIDI nine-storey residential tower block

MEPA approves nine-storey tower block and two 14-storey residential blocks consisting of 102 apartments and catering outlets at ground floor.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has approved the construction for MIDI's Tigné Point's T-14 tower block, and two 14-storey residential blocks, comprising just over 100 apartments.

The decision was taken at a public hearing, where objections were raised by members of conservationist NGO Flimkien Ghal-Ambjent Ahjar, who claimed the plans were changed without any opportunity for the public to see them.

MIDI's decision to withdraw an application for a massive high-rise tower in Tigné was accompanied by a request by the same company for MEPA to process two other applications for the construction of two high-rise, albeit smaller developments.............

Follow this link for the full article on MaltaToday.

Government launches new temporary ground rent redemption scheme

The government this morning announced a new scheme which will enable tenants to redeem temporary emphyteusis in residential properties administered by the Joint Office and the Lands Department.
Government properties minister Jason Azzopardi said this would benefit hundreds of households, who would finally be able to become owners of their homes.

He said the new scheme opens on February 20 and will run for six months. It will enable the tenants to redeem their groundrent at very favourable rates.
Those who currently pay less than €5 per year as groundrent will be able to redeem their groundrent for €1,000.
Those between €5 and €10 per annum will be able to redeem for €2,000 and those currently paying between €10 and €20 per year will redeem for €3,000.
There are two conditions. If a property is sold within five years from when the groundrent is redeemed, the governemnt will be entitled to 25% of the price of the property. Disabled people, separated couples and those over 65 years old…