Belair‘s Claire Grech has helped countless expat families to find their dream home in Malta. Here she shares her top tips with Mini Malta on how to ensure that your home search is as painless as possible.
1. So many expats immediately focus their property search on Sliema and St Julian’s when they arrive in Malta. In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
Sliema and St Julian’s are the main towns on the island – everything is there: shops, cafes, restaurants and seafront. When someone moves to Malta for the first time, we suggest these areas because of the convenience and also because they are an excellent stepping stone while you get your bearings around the island as a whole. If you are moving to Malta with children, there is far more to do in Sliema and St Julian’s than in many other areas of the island and it is all right on your doorstep with no car required.
The disadvantages are that, as they are Malta’s most urban areas, they are busy with more traffic, noise, construction and pollution. Also, depending on what you are looking for, Sliema and St Julian’s are more expensive than other areas. You will particularly have to pay a premium for sea views – look further back for a better price if you are happy to do so.
2. Many properties in Malta are rented furnished and finished which is very convenient for many people arriving on the island. If, however, you are desperate to personalise your home with some of your own furniture and decorative details, what can a potential tenant do to ensure that this is possible?
Most properties are fully furnished – it is not easy to accommodate clients looking for an unfurnished property. However, the way to get around this would be to look for properties where the owner might be willing to store their things. This will depend very much on the landlord and so it is always worth asking – make sure your agent does so on your behalf.
It is worth saying that there are good storage facilities in Malta so, if you arrive with a container and can’t find an unfurnished property, there will be somewhere safe to keep your things in the interim.
3. What makes Malta unique when it comes to renting property?
Malta offers a unique blend of sunny island life, conveniences close to hand, easy travel around Europe and no language barrier thanks to widespread use of English. There is so much on offer here to expats. Furthermore, our new rent law, since January 2020, has made things very favourable to tenants. The rental process is not complicated – this is an easy place to rent your home.
The only disadvantage I can think of to renting in Malta is that it is an extremely fast-moving market. If you want to find a property, it is difficult to look in advance – you will be searching more or less at the time you want to move.
4. COVID has had a huge effect on every aspect of our lives. What effect has it had on landlords and their potential tenants?
In the past few months, the market has dropped by 20% to 40% and many landlords have been faced with requests for rent reductions in order to keep their tenants in situ. Everybody is really feeling the pinch. There have been a large number of people leaving the island and so this has resulted in many vacant properties. In particular, the short let market has really ground to a halt and landlords there are having to reduce their prices and opt for longer lets.
What all this means is that there is more availability and so landlords are having to be more competitive in what they are offering. We have found that, in general, they have accepted this and been very reasonable as, at the end of the day, property owners want to see their property occupied and making money. As an aside, many landlords are much more willing to consider pets. Of course, pet insurance is required but it is great news for animal lovers.
5. What will be your lasting memories of COVID?
I have definitely felt some fear and insecurity in the last few months, as we all have, but I must say that working for Belair has been such a blessing. They were the first property agency to go into lockdown and they have looked after their team very well while we worked from home. We have been busy keeping in touch with owners and keeping our website up to date and useful to our potential tenants. The uncertainty caused by COVID hasn’t gone away, but Belair’s reaction has made it a lot easier for me.
Let us know if you have any questions for Claire – we’ll keep in touch and pass on replies. Add your questions in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re looking to get in contact with Belair Property to help you with your Sales or Rental queries, feel free to contact them on a live video call through www.talktobelair.com