Inherited Vacant Properties


With regards to the matter of inherited vacant properties, the coming into force of the Civil Code amendment to the current laws regulating inheritance on the 1st of April 2016 was seen as a welcome change for many heirs who previously had to wait for five or ten years to find any possible resolution to internal disagreements regarding the sale of their empty properties. Indeed, thanks to Act No. XIV of 2016,


“The periods of ten years previously provided for in articles 495(3) and 495A(1) (prior to their amendment) and of five years previously provided for in article 495B (prior to its substitution) respectively and as in force prior to the 1st April 2016 shall no longer apply as from the 1st April 2016”


Instead, heirs are now allowed to conduct the sale of inherited vacant properties after a mere three years, provided that more than 51% of the heirs are in agreement.

So what does this mean for Maltese families and their inherited vacant properties?

Prior to this amendment which was proposed in the 2016 budget in an effort to free up a number of the estimated 41,232 inherited vacant properties on the island, many families were forced to spend years wrangling over whom to sell to and what kind of cut they would receive, with the effect of some of the heirs actually passing away themselves and the properties in question degrading to irretrievable states. These inherited vacant properties do not only pose safety issues due to a lack of maintenance, but such empty spaces also have a habit of attracting vandals, squatters and other mischief makers looking for a private space to hide out. This recent amendment also makes for one of the most effective pro-environment measures proposed by this legislature.

In essence, this recent amendment to the Civil Code hopes to significantly reduce the number of vacant properties which populate our island in a much shorter time frame than ever before, whilst safeguarding the rights of the majority who do want to sell.


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