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Ideally, renting a place anywhere goes like this: You likely plan on opening 50 or so tabs and proceed to spend the next couple of hours shifting between either AirBnb, expat.com or if you’re going local, one of Malta’s many real estate agency portals. Apartments are a big business in Malta – you have Engel & Volkers, Dahlia, franksalt, Remax, Perry, Simonmamo, just to name a few big ones, and any of them are going to do a good job, but don’t stop here.
One tip on the house before you move to any place new? Your best guide are other expats. Learn about the issues the expats are battling, their best practices, how they’re solving them, and how that’s going to affect you once you’ve moved in.
When it comes to Malta? The answer is Patricia Graham, who has created her own YouTube channel, MyMalta, where she provides expert advice on moving and living here as an expat. She’s one of the best people to help you through all the hurdles you’ll have to face and the hoops you’ll have to jump through.
Patricia Graham is also spokesperson of Up In Arms Malta Residents Advisory Group. This Group was initially opened, when it was decided to pursue a Class Action against Arms Ltd in regards to the Domestic Residential rate that many were affected by. Now, it has grown from a tiny seed into a flourishing community that strives to ensure tenants in Malta are treated justly no matter where from or who they are.
We combed through some of Patricia’s videos to take down highlights and important snippets. Here’s her 10 top tips:
Hiring an Agent or Going Straight to the Owner
Patricia personally advises that you seek an agent. An agent can ‘be your best friend when things go wrong’. That said, not all agents are the same, so don’t be afraid to speak with more than one agent.
Signing your contract
Another good reason for hiring an agent is the moment when you have to sign your contract with your landlord. When it comes to signing your contract, don’t just show up on the day ready to take the apartment. Have a good look at the contract again in case there was anything you missed the first time. Better yet, have your agent read it with you. If you don’t like something in the contract, score it out.
The Pitfalls When Renting a Property in Malta
Some properties are what Patricia would term as ‘Granny’s leftovers.’ By this, she means a building someone inherited and who rent it out because they don’t know what to do with it. The appliances are old, sofas and beds aren’t the best. To this, Patricia strongly advises that you take pictures ‘of EVERYTHING!’ when you walk into the apartment. And she means everything: the bedding, the toilet, serial numbers (it’s not the first time where landlords told tenants that they had to pay for a dingy old fridge themselves).
Sign an Inventory
This is a must! Without an inventory, you have no safety when it comes to checkout at the end of tenancy.
Arms are the only people who can charge you for Water
If your landlord tries to come to you and asks for extra payment from something he’s printed off the Arms webpage, do not accept it! Every two months you must receive a front-page Arms bill and a second-page Arms bill. The second page is The Bible! That will tell you if there are any issues, any leaks and you must insist on having this.
Getting the bills in your own name
Patricia strongly advises that you get the bills in your name if you plan to be here for an extended period of time. It’s cheaper in the long run.
Wear and Tear
If you’re moving into a property where there are already marks on the wall, or if the fridge is damaged, take pictures! Patricia says you can almost guarantee from the cases she’s seen that there are landlords who will take advantage of these situations.
Before you leave
When it comes to moving out of your apartment, you have to leave everything in the same condition as you found it. Before it comes to moving out of your rented home, take pictures of everything again: the TV working, the washing machine doing a load, and leave that apartment 100% spotless (clean it until it shines!), because you will be charged otherwise.
Take care of your deposit
Keep these tips in mind as they can affect whether your landlord keeps the deposit or not. The deposit is not something that is easily returned. In Malta, we have no third-person deposit scheme. The landlord tends to keep the deposit – and a great majority will always find a situation where they feel it justified to keep the deposit.
Make sure the landlord attends the check-out
If your landlord coolly tells you to ‘just leave the keys on the table and I’ll pick them up’, DO NOT accept that. Make sure they are there, and that you have pictures of the apartment that you took before check-out. Having them there ensures that you will get your deposit back. If he is not there, he can easily invent a reason that the apartment was not in the appropriate condition and keep the deposit.
Here’s her latest youtube video on rental regulations coming into affect in 2020:
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