Utilities Residential Tariff

So why is form H so important?

Without this form being signed by your landlord and submitted to ARMS tenants have found themselves being charged between 43 and 103.4% more than if they were on the correct tariff. Over the course of a year this can be quite a significant amount and added to rental prices an extra cost that is easily avoided.

It has to be said there has been some lack of knowledge about utilities charging by both the landlords and tenants and the more information you have about tariffs the better for you when it comes to agreeing a contract. It is very important that you get agreement that form H can be submitted Before you sign the contract.

If they refuse to sign form H it is a good indication that they are not reasonable landlords and you would be strongly advised to walk away.

All people living the their primary residence should be paying 0.1047 cents per unit and for a single person residence the eco reduction should be 25%.

If you are currently in the middle of a tenancy agreement and suspect you are not on the right tariff first of all speak to the landlord, ask to see the full invoice and explain you would like to be on the correct rate by submitting form H. Hopefully the landlord will be open to signing the form for you and once this is done you could also consider applying for a refund from ARMS using form H1.

There is an option of changing the account in your name on a temporary basis without the landlords consent but as this is still under consideration I am not proposing to go into details of this at present.

You can download your copy of form H by clicking here

Form H

Good luck with this and hopefully you will still start saving money or be on the correct tariff from the start of your new tenancy.

 

 

 

Deposit and getting it back

A deposit is paid in most countries when renting and in most countries this is refundable at the end of the tenure with no quibbles. Understandably minus reasonable deduction for breakages or non wear and tear damage. Sadly in Malta this is not the case and quite often a deposit is seen as “free” money to the landlord. Read on for suggestions on ensuring you get what is “your” money back.

Hopefully you have a good landlord and you will not need this advice but if you do not then this may well help you.

  • If you have an inventory as should be the case when you signed the contract check that everything is there. If not then expect a deduction for any items or damage.
  • Make a recording of the flat including electronic goods working such as the fridge, TV and washing machine.
  • Make sure the flat is clean as this is an obvious deduction the landlord will try to make.
  • Take the electricity and water readings and work out what is owed using the ARMS online calculator.
  • Go to a solicitor  and get a letter addressed to the landlord demanding the sum owed to you. This will cost you about €25 but will be worth it considering the amount you put down in deposit.
  • Return the keys with the solicitor’s letter in “registered” mail as this is crucial if the deposit is not returned and you need to go to court.

Sound advice is  to leave the flat as you found it and I would strongly recommend that you take photos or make a recording of the next flat you move into so that you have before and after footage.

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I would be interested to hear your stories on getting your deposit back, good and bad, so please feel free to use the contact page below.

 

Rent Subsidy

Like many other countries Malta has rent subsidy available for those households earning less than €23000 PA and having less than €23300 in savings.

Application is fairly straight forward assuming you have a rental contract and have been in the property the previous 12 months. You will need to prove your income in the previous 12 months which can be done by asking your employer or previous employer for an FS3. You will needs rent payment receipts and €10 to hand for the administration fee. The whole process can take about 3 months but payment will be backdated and the remaining fees of about €30 taken from the first payment. Also the form will need to be witnessed by a professional person, such as a Doctor, which should set you back no more than €5 or €10.

The office itself is in Floriana and is only open between 08.30 and 11.30 and not on a Wednesday.

Once you get to the office with all your forms and paperwork you will be assigned a number in the queue and watched over by security. Once into see an advisor you should find them professional, quick and helpful as I did.

You can download the forms in English or Maltese from the following link;

Subsidy Application Forms

Within these forms you will see exactly what you need to take with you such as a copy of the front and back of your ID card. It pays to be well prepared which will save your time when you get there.

I almost forgot, be prepared for the property you rent to be inspected to ensure it is of a habitable standard. This maybe quite short notice so you may have to juggle other commitments and be prepared for the property owner not really liking this part.

The amount you get awarded in subsidy depend on your income and rent paid but should not be less than about €80 per month and no more than about €160.

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Good luck!

 

Private Rent Advice

Advice about renting private accommodation in Malta has been limited. For many people in Malta this can prove to be a terrible experience especially if they are new to the Island. Like many of us here I learnt the hard way through experience and want to share some useful tips that may help to avoid some heartache and stress.

In no way is this a definitive guide and will be improved along the way I am sure but for now I am going to share the basics.

Finding a new home can be stressful here in Malta due to the high demand from both Maltese and foreign people. I recently moved and the people who viewed the property were split 50% local and 50% foreign according to the property owner. In fact the property owner was in the fortunate position to be able to choose the tenant and luckily that was me. So be prepared not to be offered or even want the first property you view. If you have transport or are prepared to use the buses here then you will find the right property at reasonable rent. In popular areas rent can be very high relative to wages.

If you have found the right property it would pay to explore the surrounding area including neighboring properties before you sign a contract. When meeting the property owner or agent (I am going to avoid the pros and cons of agent or owner here) I would suggest that you try to get a contract for 2 years and prices agreed in advance with at least 1 month notice period from either side. You may well not like the property after being there a while and the more time you have to find another place if the owner wants you out. I personally have a 4 month notice period as I wanted extra peace of mind from bitter experience. A contract here should actually be witnessed by a notary to be legally binding but the majority are not and just signed at the same time by the property owner and tenant.

Most places are furnished and the contract should have an inventory of what the property comes with. It would be a good idea to inspect everything with the property owner or agent and sign it off at the same time as the contract. You may even want to go to the extent of photographing or making a video of the property before you move in. There have been cases where tenants have been charged for non existent damage and the deposit withheld. Make sure that the deposit is stated as returnable at the end of the tenancy assuming no major issues.

Utilities (electricity and water) are and have been a big issue. In my view do not accept paying for this via the property owner or agent. Ideally get the utilities registered to you via form H available from ARMS and pay directly. At the very least only pay usage as per the online calculator. I guess you are saying to yourself what is ARMS, where is the online calculator…. Not to worry as all links appear at the bottom of this article.

Try not to get carried away in the emotion of finding a new place to live. Make sure you leave enough time and it does pay to shop around and do your homework. There are local papers and of course the internet to search. If you are planning to move to Malta then factor in a short let or B&B before you decide to rent longer term.

Do not part with any cash to anyone as a retainer before seeing the property and the persons credentials.

The following are useful links with a short description for your reference;

ARMS online bill calculator

List of Solicitors you may want to refer to

Rent subsidy guide available for Maltese and EU nationals

Easy guide to rent subsidy

Getting your residence card (Identity card)

I hope you have found this guide useful but if you have further questions then feel free to submit an email using the contact page and I will answer you the best I can.

If like many of us you feel that the complete lack of regulation of the rental market in Malta is frustrating the please sign on the online petition here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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