The purchase of a property in Malta is not complicated, no matter if the buyer is a national or foreigner. Also, both natural persons and companies are allowed to buy properties in Malta. Once bought, a property must be registered with the Land Register in Malta. The Land Register is the main authority keeping track of all residential, commercial and land plots in Malta. Below, you can read about the main functions, the organization and the divisions of the Land Register in Malta. Should you need assistance in any real estate matter which requires searches with the Land Registry, you can rely on our law firm in Malta.
Real estate legislation in Malta
All real estate transactions are governed by several laws which cover various areas. Among these, the Civil Code and the Land Registration Law which also encompasses articles about the creation of the Land Register are the most important ones.
Some provisions of the Contract Law also apply when buying real estate in Malta.
It is important to know that until recently, the Maltese Land Register was part of Identity Malta Agency. Now, it is subordinated to the Maltese Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects.
Our Maltese lawyers can offer detailed information on the legislation related to purchasing or selling real estate.
Division of the Maltese Land Registry
The Land Registry in Malta is divided into several offices, each one of them with its function:
- the Receiving Office is in charge with receiving applications for registration of properties, search application forms, application for condominium and it issues Land Registry plans. The Receiving office is also in charge with collecting application fees;
- the Drawing Office processes all the applications by verifying the data and digitizing the Land Registry plans. It also answers to the From E search requests;
- the Land Registry has two assistant Land Registrars. They are the ones reviewing, making sure all the data is correct and approving the applications;
- the Data Input Section is in charge with registering all the applications, keeping track of all files and inserting all the data in the Land Registry;
- the Prezentata Section is the newest department in the Land Registry and it is in charge with performing searches of all individuals and legal entities that want to register or transfer properties.
After all searches and investigations are done and no problem has emerged, the transaction can be concluded by signing the final deed of sale.
Who can access the Maltese Land Register?
The Land Register can be accessed by its employees only. Considering the Land Register can be used to make real estate verifications, those seeking to find information about a property must file a request in this sense on the online portal of the Land Register.
In order to make an inquiry with the Land Register, an applicant must complete a request form and pay a small fee. All information to be obtained with the Land Registry in Malta is subject to the same fee, which at the level of 2019 is approximately 5 euros.
Considering the new version of the Land Registry’s website is updated on continuous basis, some of the queries must be handled by the Land Register Directorate. This is why, if you are interested in finding out information about a specific property, you can request the services of our Maltese law firm.
Information kept by the Land Registry in Malta
As mentioned above, the Land Register keeps information about all types of properties in Malta. Among these, one can find the following:
- information about all the owners of a residential and commercial property in Malta;
- information about all the land plots, including agricultural lands and forests in Malta;
- information about the encumbrances ((if any) and value of a property at a certain moment;
- information about the entire surface and other technical details on a land plot, residential or commercial property;
- a map of the entire country with the division of land plots on each island in Malta.
The main role of the Land Register is to maintain updated information on all properties in Malta and to provide updated information to all parties interested.
Our lawyers in Malta can offer more information on the information you can search with the Land Register.
Real estate due diligence with the Land Register in Malta
The Land Registry plays an important role when it comes to buying a property in Malta as a natural person or as a company. This is because part of the real estate due diligence can be completed with the Maltese Land Register.
Real estate due diligence is not an obligation of the future buyer, however, it is advisable for both local and foreign citizens and companies interested in buying a property in Malta to verify it before the sale-purchase agreement is signed.
There are several types of real estate procedures which can be completed, however, it is good to know that the procedures are separate in the case of residential and commercial real estate purchases.
The verification of a property will usually start at the Land Register which can provide very useful information on a property. Among the information which can be found, we can mention the following:
- information about previous owners (in the case of old properties);
- information about existing encumbrances on the property (such as mortgages);
- information about the use of property (a map of the land is usually available).
It is good to know that the real estate due diligence report can be prepared by a law firm in Malta which can also provide other useful information related to the legal status of a said property.
When it comes to commercial real estate due diligence, things can be a little more complicated, as companies seeking to buy commercial properties implies a more thorough verification. This is because most companies will usually buy properties located on large land plots and which usually host more than one building. This is why the verification, including the Land Register verification can be more complex. This is because the buildings on the property can have different uses, while the land plot can also be used for various purposes.
The real estate verification procedure is very important when buying property in Malta and the Land Register plays an important role not only after the purchase when the property needs to be registered, but also before when it needs to be verified.
Our Maltese lawyers can help you with detailed real estate due diligence verifications which can help you make a decision and start the purchase process sooner rather than later.
Purchasing a property in Malta
Once the buyer has decided on the property to purchase, there are a few steps which need to be completed. Usually a pre-sale agreement is signed. At the same time an advance payment which will guarantee the completion of the purchase is made.
Those who want to buy properties in Malta and cannot come for the final stage of a transaction can grant a power of attorney to one of our lawyers who can represent them. Then, we can also handle the registration of the property with the Malta Land Register.
Our Maltese law firm can offer more information on the registration requirements of both residential and commercial properties with the Land Registrar.
With respect to the registration of the property with the Land Register, it is important to note that the procedure must be completed by the buyer no later than 15 days after the sale-purchase agreement was signed. As mentioned above, the new owner can appoint another person to complete the registration on their behalf.
Registration of a property in Malta
After deciding to buy a property in Malta, the due diligence process is the most important step to be taken before the final sale.
After you signed the presale agreement, during the waiting period, the notary will be in charge with making all the verifications that will lead to the final sale. The Maltese Land Registry is where all information regarding the seller and the property are stored. The notary must submit an application form, called Form E, in order to get access and find information about the entitlement of the seller, the plan of the property and if the property lies within a registered area.
The Land Registry will bring to the attention of the notary the outcome of the search. In case the property is registered, the Land Registry will then emit a Certificate of Title that will contain relevant data about the owner. The search and the outcome will take no longer than eight days since de application has been submitted.
After receiving the Certificate of Title, the notary will search with the Public Registry data about the seller and if any liability exists, that it can encumber or make impossible the sale of the property.
Transfer of properties with the Land Register in Malta
Once a sale-purchase contract in relation with a property has been signed, the law provides for the buyer to register the new property title with the Land Register no later than 15 days after the conclusion of the transaction.
Considering the sale or purchase of a property must be completed before a public notary in Malta, it is important to know that the notary will file the documents for the registration of the new property title with the Land Registry.
Another important aspect which can be handled by the Land Register is making decisions with respect to disputes related to the registration of properties between two parties. These decisions can be appealed only with the Court of Appeal in Malta.
Our attorneys in Malta can represent you in various real estate disputes.
Residence by investment in real estate in Malta
In the last few years, Malta has become a very appealing destination for high net worth individuals and investors seeking to obtain permanent residence or citizenship by acquiring a golden visa. Malta’s program is one of the most appreciated because it allows foreigners to buy or rent properties with a certain value. These properties must be registered with the Land Registry in Malta after acquisition, respectively rental.
There are several investment options for those who want to move to Malta through the Golden Visa Program, however, the real estate investment option is one of the most attractive because the value of the property to be purchased must be at least 350,000 euros. Those who decide to rent a property must know than the minimum rental value is 16,000 euros per year. Another requirement associated with the program is for the buyer to hold the property for at least 5 years after the purchase.
Upon filing the application for the golden visa, the buyer is required to file proof of ownership or leasing which can be obtained with the Land Registry in Malta. The proof must be obtained 4 months before receiving the letter of approval for residency or citizenship.
Our lawyers in Malta can help foreign citizens who want to move here under the Golden Visa Scheme.
The real estate market in Malta
Malta is an appealing tourist destination, which is why many visitors decide to purchase vacation homes here. According to recent statistics, 92.4% of the Maltese population owned houses at the level of 2018. Also:
- based on a survey completed in June 2018, 16.4% of the population declared they owned a second home in Malta;
- over 40% of the respondents of the study said the second properties are rented to others;
- another 15% of the respondents declared they use the properties for investment purposes;
- other 40% of the participants in the study declared they use the said properties as holiday homes;
- Sliema, St. Paul’s Bay and Marsascala are cities preferred by Maltese nationals for buying homes.
Purchasing a property in Malta can be an uncomplicated process if you benefit from legal help from our Maltese lawyers. They can deal with the verification of documents and the detection of disputes if they exist. We mention that foreigners can purchase villas, residential properties, hotels, or office spaces, at market prices and without restrictions. We also remind you that there is real estate tax and VAT that must be paid when purchasing a property in Malta.
If you want to buy a property, our law firm in Malta can provide you with legal assistance in making your purchase. If you need details about the registration process of a property, please contact our Maltese lawyers.