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Tenant Rights and Condominia

Over the past decade, Malta’s skyline has changed, and it will continue to change for the foreseeable future. With a recently booming economy that has been attracting foreigners from across the globe to settle on an island that has limited urban space, high-rise development has become the norm. This has come with its dose of controversy, and will inevitably continue to grace our social media newsfeed for years to come.

Such a development in our construction landscape has brought with it an increase in issues relating to condominia. Apartments in blocks and towers are frequently owned by different individuals, whilst the common parts pertaining to such blocks (usually including the entrance door, lobby, stairs, lifts and wells) are owned by those same unit-owners through an undivided share (pro-rata). A right of use over the said common parts is also customary, but ultimately it all depends on the agreement reached between the developer and the different unit-owners.

In the wake of architectural concepts which were new to the Maltese construction landscape, in 2001, the Maltese legislator enacted the ‘Condominium Act’, Chapter 398 of the Laws of Malta (the ‘Act’). This legislation has over the past two decades served as the regulatory basis for matters pertaining to condominia, particularly in relation to the rights and obligations of the various unit owners (condomini), repairs to the common parts, dispute resolution, the appointment and removal of an administrator and general rules of procedure in relation to the administration of affairs.

Setting up of a statute with clear rules and appointing an administrator is the way to go.

An element which the Act regulates is the registration of a condominium with the Land Registry. In view of the various issues which might arise between the various condomini, the setting up of a statute with clear rules and the appointment of an administrator frequently serves as the right mechanism for the proper administration of the condominium. Such rules could be as general or detailed as the various condomini may wish, and are to be approved through a general meeting, for which attendance by two-thirds representation of the number of units in the block is required. A vote by proxy may also be accepted.

The final draft of such statute together with an original site plan are to be filed with the Land Registry, and once registration is effected, the condominium rules come into effect. In this respect, it is the obligation of the administrator and the condomini to update the Land Registry with any updates to their rules, including the removal and appointment of a new administrator.

The role of the administrator is crucial in the general administration of affairs of the common parts. However, issues and disagreements between the various unit owners can at times happen. Getting it right from the very beginning is the key to solving such issues.

Dr. Christopher Vella

Commercial Law - Civil Law

This commentary should not be regarded as legal advice.

Our firm provides assistance to several administrators and unit owners in the registration of a condominium, preparation for annual general meetings, debt collection and general assistance regarding condominium legislation. Kindly contact us so we can assist you.

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