Do you live in a condominium? As Malta became more and more urban over the years, living in apartments has become increasingly popular, but the law regulating them hasn’t been updated in a while… since 1997 actually.
However, plans are now in the works to reform the country’s condominium laws to reflect the realities and demands of Malta in 2021.
What does the current law state?
Firstly, a condominium is defined as a building or a building complex composed of apartments owned by different people and common parts owned by all the owners collectively.
Common parts could include the main entrance door, the stairs, the lift, the roof, the parking area, the yard, the lobby room… basically anything that belongs to everyone who lives in the block.
In fact, unless otherwise stated in the apartment contract, shares in the common part are automatically divided equally among the different apartment owners.
There are quite a few regulations governing what can and cannot be done in common areas.
Every owner must give their consent before any common area item is removed before its aesthetics and decorations change and before any new feature is added which could impact its use. Chair lifts can be installed at the owner’s own expense so long as they don’t cause problems to other owners.
Tenants have a right to attend discussions among property owners but don’t have a right to vote. If they install something to the apartment block, even if it’s at their own cost, the flat’s actual owner has no right to reimburse them when the rental contract is over.
So as to manage the finances of all of this and to take charge when any disputes arise, the law envisages the role of an administrator.
Voted in by the flat owners (or condomini) every two years, the administrator’s responsibilities include executing decisions related to the common area, apportioning and collecting costs, preparing accounts, maintaining a floating fund for all flat owners, and keeping minutes of condomini meetings.
Chosen administrators must register themselves with the Lands Registry and have the legal right to sue condomini and third parties, and to be sued by them, for issues relating to common areas.
All of this entails quite a lot of work, so it’s unsurprising that the market created a new job, with some people administering a number of apartment blocks and complexes as a full-time job.
So what’s going to change?
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice kickstarted a public consultation process to see what people make of the current laws and to get their feedback on what needs to change.
For example, one of the main points raised in the consultation document is whether the time has come to regulate condominium administration as a profession in its own right. This would impose certain standards, such as qualifications or experience, for people working in the sector.
Perhaps, as Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis noted, other service providers besides administrators could be recognised in the new law.
Crucially, the Ministry is also proposing to replace as much condominium litigation with mediation as possible. This could see decisions become more expedient and free up the courts’ time, over and above the fact that prolonged litigation among condomini creates an uncomfortable community atmosphere.
But perhaps you have other suggestions to make living in a condominium a better experience, particularly when it comes to issues over shared common items. Whether you’re an administrator, an architect, a flat owner, a property owner or someone planning to move into a condominium, your ideas are being sought after.
Tag someone who lives in a condominium