Attention Estate Agents – Industry-Changing White Paper Launched

Attention Estate Agents – Industry-Changing White Paper Launched

Real Estate Law

A White Paper has been launched in Malta intended to address perceived shortcomings in the real estate industry and bring together industry stakeholders to actively participate in the legislative process. The White Paper will lead to a legal framework that also establishes a code of practice for estate agents in the execution of their work.

The White Paper aims to ensure high quality standards and services in the real estate sector and is proposing the introduction of a licence which would be required by each real estate professional in order to operate

The White Paper aims to ensure high quality standards and services in the real estate sector and is proposing the introduction of a licence which would be required by each real estate professional in order to operate. This would be awarded following the relevant training.

Another suggestion is to set up a regulatory Authority that will be tasked with administering the licensing regime, keeping record of the licences issued, suggesting training courses, developing rules of practice, setting fees, setting professional standards for estate agents and investigating reported offences.

property consultants operating for less than two years prior to the date of the coming into force of the Act will be granted a temporary licence for a maximum of one year

In addition, the Paper also recommends that estate agents and property consultants present to their clients written terms of business – including an explanation of fees and charges as well as any additional fees that may be incurred by the client under specific circumstances. The written business terms should clearly state whether fees are fixed or a percentage of the selling price and when these would be due.

The proposed official licensing fees are of €500, together with €250 for each additional office, payable on an annual basis.

The proposed law provides for an express licensing exemption for village broker/s (commonly known as ‘sensara’)

In order to facilitate the transition, the proposed law provides that applicants/ property consultants operating for less than two years prior to the date of the coming into force of the Act will be bound to complete the required training course but will be granted a temporary licence for a maximum of one year. Upon successful completion of training, the regulatory authority will proceed to issue a permanent licence in the applicant’s favour.

The proposed law provides for an express licensing exemption for village broker/s (commonly known as ‘sensara’) to the extent that such persons are individuals who, in conducting property transactions, (i) do not advertise their services on any social/media networks; (ii) restrict their services to occasional transactions; and (iii) do not employ persons in the conduct of their business.

The White Paper invites a public debate on these considerations, so that both an institutional legal framework with a code of conduct and a real estate educational programme may be devised and implemented in due course.

The following matters are being proposed for consultation:

  • An act to regulate Estate Agencies, agents, property consultants, and Property Managers to safeguard the interests of consumers, to promote public confidence in the performance of estate agency work and/ or management to make provision with respect to matters ancillary or incidental thereto or connected therewith;
  • A Code of Ethics covering conduct between agencies as well as conduct with clients;
  • An organisation to coordinate the efforts of Estate Agencies, other agents, property consultants, and Property Managers that promotes high quality estate in Malta; and
  • International training programmes.

Once the consultation process is concluded a proposal will be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.

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