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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Malta

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Investing in property in Malta can be a wise choice. Options include historic homes, seaside apartments, and city flats, making it an appealing market for potential investors.

However, for international buyers, navigating the complexities of the Maltese real estate market can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to verifying the authenticity and legality of the Konvenju, which is the official title deed in Malta.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Malta.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Malta.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Konvenju in Malta?

The Konvenju, or Promise of Sale, is a crucial document in the process of buying property in Malta.

It's essentially a legally binding agreement between the buyer and the seller, outlining the terms under which the sale of a property will take place. This agreement precedes the final deed of sale and is a unique feature of the Maltese real estate system.

What sets the Konvenju apart from other property documents is its role as a preliminary agreement. It's not the final sale deed but a promise that the sale will occur under certain conditions.

It typically includes details like the price, any conditions to be fulfilled before finalizing the sale (like obtaining a bank loan), and a timeframe within which the sale must be concluded.

Legally, the Konvenju confers specific rights and obligations to both parties. For the buyer, it secures the right to purchase the property at the agreed terms, protecting against the seller backing out or selling to someone else.

For the seller, it ensures that the buyer is committed to the purchase and will proceed as long as the conditions are met.

However, it's important to note what the Konvenju does not do. It doesn't transfer ownership of the property; that happens only with the final deed of sale. So, while it's a reliable document in terms of holding both parties to their promise, it doesn't by itself give you any ownership rights or equity in the property.

In terms of resale and inheritance, the Konvenju has specific implications. Until the final deed is signed, the buyer doesn't own the property, so they can't sell or pass it on through inheritance. This is a critical consideration for foreign investors or anyone looking to purchase property in Malta.

Once the final sale deed is signed, the property can be resold or included in an inheritance, subject to Maltese property laws.

Remember, the Konvenju is a promise, not the conclusion of a property transaction. It's a step that safeguards the interests of both buyer and seller until the final deed is signed, at which point the property changes hands legally.

As with any legal document, especially in foreign real estate transactions, it's wise to consult with a legal expert familiar with Maltese property law to navigate these agreements effectively.

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How to verify a title deed in Malta?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of a Konvenju, or Promise of Sale, in Malta is an essential step in ensuring a secure real estate transaction.

To start with, a Konvenju is typically drafted and witnessed by a notary public in Malta. The notary plays a critical role in this process, so they are your first point of contact for verification.

To verify a Konvenju, you should request the notary who drafted the document to confirm its authenticity. Each Konvenju is unique and contains specific details about the property, the agreed price, and the terms of sale.

The notary maintains records of the documents they witness and can verify if the document in question is genuine and matches their records.

While not directly involved in verifying the authenticity of a Konvenju, lawyers can provide valuable assistance. They can help you understand the legal implications of the document, ensure that your rights are protected, and liaise with the notary for verification.

Engaging a lawyer experienced in Maltese property law is highly advisable, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local real estate market or are a foreign investor.

Real estate agents, while they play a significant role in facilitating property transactions in Malta, are not typically involved in the legal verification of the Konvenju. Their expertise lies in property search, negotiation, and market advice, rather than legal validation of documents.

For identifying red flags and avoiding scams, ensure the notary is registered and licensed in Malta. You can verify this through the Notarial Council of Malta.

Be cautious if the Konvenju lacks specific details like property description, agreed price, or seller and buyer details. Be wary of pressure to skip steps like notary verification or legal consultation.

Verify the property ownership and ensure there are no outstanding debts or legal issues with the property through a search in the Public Registry.

Remember, in real estate transactions, thorough due diligence is key to safeguarding your interests. Take the time to verify documents and seek professional advice to navigate the process securely.

What to check

Understanding a property's history, including past ownerships and transactions, is crucial when considering a real estate purchase in Malta.

This history can reveal important information about the property, such as legal disputes, ownership patterns, and potential issues that could affect your rights as a future owner.

To access and interpret the property's history records, you should start at the Public Registry in Malta. This registry contains records of all property transactions, including sales, inheritances, and other transfers of ownership.

By examining these records, you can trace the property’s ownership history and get an idea of its transactional background.

Understanding the property's past is important because it can highlight potential legal issues or disputes. For instance, if the property has frequently changed hands in a short period, this could indicate problems that made previous owners want to sell quickly.

Checking for outstanding debts or liens against the property is a critical step. Debts or liens can be transferred to the new owner upon purchase. To check for these, inquire at the Land Registry in Malta.

This registry records any mortgages, liens, or encumbrances on the property. If you find any, these need to be settled or negotiated before you finalize the purchase, as they could affect your ownership rights.

The implications of encumbrances like debts or liens are significant. If you buy a property with outstanding debts, you might be legally responsible for paying them. This could mean additional financial burden on top of the purchase price.

Verifying the property’s measurements and boundaries as stated in the title deed is also crucial. Inaccurate measurements can lead to disputes with neighbors or legal issues. For verification, you should hire a professional surveyor.

They will measure the property and compare it against the deed. If there are discrepancies, the issue must be resolved legally, often involving negotiations with neighbors or previous owners, and sometimes requiring legal action.

Finally, understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is vital. Zoning laws determine how a property can be used, whether for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes.

To find out about these, consult with the local council or planning authority in Malta. They can provide information on zoning regulations and any future plans that might affect the property.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Malta, you might want to check it out.

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How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Malta?

After purchasing a property in Malta, updating the title deed, known as the Konvenju, is a crucial step.

The process involves formalizing the change of ownership through legal documentation and registration. Once the final deed of sale is signed, the notary who facilitated the transaction submits this deed to the Public Registry.

This is a legal requirement and ensures that the public records accurately reflect the new ownership status of the property. The updated title deed will then include your name as the new owner, along with any other relevant details that were agreed upon in the sale, such as property boundaries and any easements.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, once you've verified the title deed and completed the purchase, it's wise to consider several types of insurance.

Firstly, property insurance is essential. This protects your property from damage due to natural disasters, fires, theft, and other unforeseen events. Additionally, liability insurance is advisable, protecting you in case someone is injured on your property and decides to sue.

In Malta, you might also want to consider title insurance. While not as common as in some other countries, title insurance can provide protection against any legal issues that might arise related to the property title, such as undiscovered liens or documentation errors.

For foreign owners, understanding how the title deed affects inheritance laws is also important. In Malta, property owned by foreigners can be subject to both local and the owner’s home country’s inheritance laws.

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of these laws and possibly draft a will that outlines your wishes regarding the property.

Depending on your nationality and residency status, different rules may apply, and it might be necessary to consult with legal experts both in Malta and your home country to ensure your property is inherited as you intend.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.