Immovable property in Malta

When a prospective buyer identifies the immovable property to be purchased, he/she enters into a written agreement (promise of sale agreement) with the Seller, containing the details of all the parties, a detailed description of the property, the price, the validity period of the agreement and any other terms and conditions agreed upon between the parties.

  1. On meeting to sign a promise of sale agreement the parties must provide the following:-
    The Seller:
    • Identity card, passport, or any other official document for personal identification
    • A copy of the contract of purchase showing how the property being sold was acquired - NB if the property in question derived from an inheritance, details also needed are date of death of the deceased from whom the testamentary disposition originated as well as copy of the latter's last valid will and the deed of declaration of transmission causa mortis.
    • A block plan showing the immovable in question together with the property's building permit.
    • If the immovable was acquired during marriage both spouses need to be parties to the transfer and their date of marriage is also requisite.
    • If a seller is abroad or cannot for other reasons valid be present when the transfer takes place, a power of attorney is necessary to carry the process forthwith - NB in the event that the seller is residing in a country other than Malta, such person's tax registration number becomes a requisite. Where such person isn't registered in Malta, the steps necessary to register such person in Malta are effected.
    • In the case of a company, a copy of its Memorandum and Articles of Association or Resolution of the Board of Directors enabling such person to represent such company is needed.
    The Buyer:
    • Identity card, passport, or any other official document for personal identification
    • Cheque book to pay deposit to seller where applicable
    • Payment of 1% of the purchase price on account of Duty on Documents.
  2. Once the Promise of sale agreement is duly signed and registered the following steps must be followed:-
    The Seller:
    • It is important to ascertain, prior the final contract, that any pending bills for electricity, ground rent, water, telephone or television/cable have been paid. Receipts are to be presented at the drawing of the final deed.
    • Provide the Notary with any additional information or documents he may have requested (for instance for the detailed plans for the purposes of the land registry, any wills or death certificates, letters cancelling hypothecs from banks, documents for the purposes of tax computation etc.) in the shortest time practicable.
    The Buyer:
    • In the event of taking a loan from a financial institution, it is important that such application is followed through to ensure the fastest route is taken in getting the loan approved and issuing of the necessary sanction letter. During the same period a plan and site plan of the property on Land Registry stationery needs to be provided and handed over to the Notary so that an official search at the Land Registry may be effected. In the meantime, the Buyer should also ensure that the House and Life insurance policies requested by the Bank are in place and paid up and the relative pledge forms in favour of the Bank duly signed.
  3. What Happens Prior to signing of the Final Contract?
    It is in this transitory time between signing of promise of sale and the final contract that the notary is engaged with all necessary verifications and preparations that will in turn enable the final contract to be made.

    If the parties so wish, the Notary orders searches to ascertain that the seller has good title and can proceed with the sale without being impeded by legal niceties.

    Where the seller is either non Maltese or not resident in Malta the Notary is bound to obtain for such seller a tax clearance from the Department of Tax before proceeding with the final contract.

    In the instance of foreign buyers, there needs to be issued a special permit for such purpose issued by the Minister of Finance.
    Where the immovable was inherited prior 24th November 1992, a permit from the Department of Succession Duty must be obtained unless 20 years have elapsed from the date of death of the deceased.

    If the buyer is going to take a loan from a commercial bank, the Notary has to present all relevant documents to the Bank's legal office for vetting prior to the final contract.

    Where the immovable to be sold has attached to it any hypothec, where such property serves as a guarantee for some banking facility taken by the seller, the Notary needs to make the arrangements necessary for the cancellation of such hypothec.
  4. When meeting to sign the Final Deed of Sale the parties must provide the following:-
    The Seller:
    • Identity card, passport, or any other official document for personal identification
    • Copy of last receipts of payment due in view of ground rent, electricity/water bills etc. - NB in order to register water and electricity metres under buyer's name a special form is required containing the readings for such meters to be obtained from either the Water Services Corporation or the Local Council.
    • Any other document (such as plans, permits, cancellation of hypothecs, etc.) asked for by the Notary.
    • If for some reason the parties appearing on the promise of sale cannot all be present for the final contract, a power of attorney is required.
    • The tax registration number of the seller if resident outside Malta
    • In the case of a company, a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of association or resolution of the board of directors authorising such person to represent the company.
    • All keys of the property being sold.
    The Buyer:
      Identity card, passport, or any other official document for personal identification
    • Cheque book in order to pay the balance on the final consideration, the duty on documents, as well as the dues for the act and notarial fees.
  5. What happens after signing the final deed?
    After the final contract has been duly signed, the Notary has 15 days within which to i) pay the tax collected on such contract, ii) enrol the deed in the Malta Public Registry or the Gozo Public Registry, and in the Land Registry, where applicable.

    Concurrently, the Notary would compile the Register (first copy) of the Original Act and sends authenticated copies to all the involved parties.

    Finally, the Notary collates all the original contracts published in that calendar year and makes an index for the same, binds them in volumes and then passes them onto the Visitor of the Court of Magistrates for them to be inspected accordingly archived under the auspices of the Notary to Government. The register (first copy) of each Act is retained by the Notary after it has been duly collated with the original.