Author: Jurgen Dalli – Junior Legal Associate, PKF Malta
Published on Malta Chamber of Commerce Blog – 11th August 2020
The myth that not every Tom, Dick and Harry, can become an estate agent has been debated since early 2016 when then Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera presented a White Paper for consultation. This scope of licensed real estate agents, as well as property brokers and consultants, came into effect by virtue of Act XXXII of 2020. This act aims to have the real estate industry fully regulated by the beginning of 2022, therefore, any person wishing to delve him or herself in negotiating and arranging transactions comprising of acquisitions, disposition or leasing of property.
Anyone caught dealing in a property without a proper license when caught may be penalised. This penalty may go as high as €20,000. The licence in question will serve for 5 years after which the person holding the license, needs to renew it.
In order to qualify for such a licence; an individual would have to attend a course that will be of a level 4 with between 8 and 12 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTs). Attendance is not required for those individuals having other equivalent qualifications. Where such qualifications are deemed to be only partially equivalent, the applicant may be subjected to a competence test in order to prove his/ her competence in the areas where it is deemed to be lacking.
Imprisonment was also possible in the first draft of the Act, however, many including Malta Developers Association president held that such a sanction would be too harsh yet all agreed with hefty penalties being imposed. Thus, the possibility of imprisonment has been omitted in the final version.
A Licensing Board is established by virtue of Article 5 of this Act whereby it will be responsible for keeping a register of those employees who have a licence. The Board has the discretion of refusing to renew the licence if the licence is found to be in breach of any provision specified in the Act. Moreover, the renewal will be refused if the licensee has admitted other persons other than a licensee to act as his/her agent in the exercise of such activities. If the licensee after the 5 years becomes unfit and improper, the Board will refrain from renewing such licence.
Finally, the Licensing Board will refuse renewal if the licensee is found to have failed to undertake a minimum of hours of continuing professional development during the preceding five years. It is a possibility for the licensee to have a decision being taken against him/ her subjected to an appeal, even for decisions refusing to renew licenses. An Administrative Review Tribunal shall be bestowed with the competence of hearing and determining objections made by any person aggrieved by a Board decision.
A licence is not required for occasional traders; i.e. those individuals who conduct not more than two transactions in a 12-month period. Nonetheless, their services must be provided without resorting to the advertisement, without having any person being employed or engaged to assist them in the performance of their services.
Apart from requiring the candidate to submit him/herself to a course, the individual in question must be at least 18 unless the applicant has been emancipated to trade as per Maltese law; Commercial Code Article 9. The academic certificate will bestow the applicant with knowledge vis-à-vis real estate in a holistic manner, in the sense that it will comprise of legal, financial, technical and communication understanding whilst also taking into account the marketing and sale aspect of the sector.
The applicant submitting an application ought to have his or her application processed within 2 months of it being submitted. The Board is vested with the duty of ensuring that the name being used by the agent or broker to operate his or her business must be reserved with the Authority.
This Act has also imposed a number of disqualifying criteria. The first disqualification is that where an individual is bankrupt or has not obtained his order of discharge, or, has obtained such an order but is suspended for a term not yet expired or is subject to conditions which have not been fulfilled. Following this is the disqualifying criteria of an applicant’s conduct and repute, financial position and to the interest of the public, the applicant is not fit and proper person to conduct property-related activities.
PKF Malta has invested a number of resources in the immigration sector, so we work closely with our realtor partners who we can recommend as being well-versed in the VIP client sphere and who are capable to source detailed real estate options targeted to your specific requirements, with the entire process from the review, selection of property to the final conclusion of an acquisition, being coordinated by our team at your convenience. Become our priority, contact us for more information today on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: www.pkfmalta.com.