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.