Due to the large influx of overseas workers coming into Malta to try out a new life of sun, sea and warm weather while progressing their careers on this tiny island, prices are going up. What should you look out for to make sure you are not going to get trapped in a net of the opportunistic fraudster?
1. Who is the agent?
Unless that agent is in a well known letting agency, look him up. A simple search on the internet can provide you with a life story. ESPECIALLY if you are in need of booking an apartment online.
Does the agent form part of an agency that has its own website?
It doesn't need to be a large agency, just something that has its own office in Malta and not an independent person claiming he is an agent with an agency of just one person working from home. If a part of you has a little alarm bell going off, there is a reason to it. Find a way to get in contact with an office of theirs to confirm their eligibility.
2. Hidden Fees.
In Malta, unlike other countries, there is no such thing as “hidden fees”. The only thing you pay when working with an agency is the 50% of one month rent + VAT(18%). No other fees ever apply from the agency's side. If an agent tells you there is a processing fee or an admin fee, he is trying to squeeze money from you. You are never obliged to pay an agent or agency unless you rented something using their help. Also when paying VAT, ask for an official vat receipt!
3. Residential Cards
Most workers require a copy of a contract and the Landlord's ID card so as to apply for a residential ID card. If you are going to need this, it is of utmost importance that you confirm with the owner AND the agent that you will be able to do so. The reason being that in Malta, unfortunately, there are a number of Landlord's that do not declare their property. This will result in either renting an apartment which you cannot use for your address or else a huge waste of time when signing the contract (which will most probably result in you losing your deposit anyway)
Another upside of the property being declared is that the Landlord's will have no issues with putting the water and electricity tariff on residential rates, cutting costs by nearly 50% !!
4. Agent Qualification
In the very near future, agents will be required by Law to have a qualification certificate allowing them to work in the profession. This has not been put into play yet however in the near future this will be a must.
5. When in doubt.
If in Malta, or abroad, and you are not sure how to proceed or if you are doing the right thing, simply phone an agency. Not necessarily the same one. Most agencies will be more than happy to instruct you on a process. However this should be done before you start your search so as to avoid wasting your time and the agent's time.