Expats has outlined some of the best eye opener tips and hints to look for when you rent a flat or apartment. The easiest solution for finding a long term accommodation is through agents. Not all agents website has genuine content, meaning ads are obsolete, flats are already rented, there is no real customer service from the agents neither the owners whatsoever! Some are good but many are predatory and will try to set you up with something that is not to your specifications. They may also promise you many things, which will not be done. Be prepared for excuses, some of which may make you feel that your intelligence is being insulted, particularly when it comes to delivery and/or completion times.
- Rent for a short period first to ensure you know more about the area, services and neighbors before committing yourself to a longer contract. Explore the possibility to obtain a 6 months leading agreement.
- Always visit the area for external noises at varying times of day and night.
- Check out parking restrictions.
- If you have pets, makes sure the landlord will allow them, some may some may not. Some may on the offer of payment of a further damages/cleaning deposit.
- If sunshine is important to you then try to get a south facing property. It can pay dividends in winter and cut your bills for heating quite considerably. Does your property get plenty of natural light?
- Penthouses are fine but they are, as a general rule, very cold/damp in winter and too hot in summer. Assess the number of exposed external walls exposed to adverse weather conditions and look for A/C.
- Make sure you have a lift in the block – hauling gas bottles and shopping up several flights of stairs is not fun as you get older. (Gas delivery will carry the cylinders for you, for a small charge above first floor.)
- Check for air vents and fully opening windows – are there any signs of black damp, humidity and or condensation – feel the bedding.
- Insects and mosquito’s are a frequent uninvited guests on this island. Does it have insect screens on opening windows and doors; absolutely essential!
- Does it have fans and or air con or at least fully opening windows?
- Check out comfort of any furniture; sofas chairs and beds. If there are damages report them and make sure they are mentioned in the contract.
- Are the appliances eco friendly units, power efficient units – same with lighting.
- Remember ground floor and mid floor apartments will suffer from a level of noise from units above, especially where young children are located. Bear in mind the tourists factor!
- Condominium! Check if the rent includes charges for communal costs for lighting, lift and maintenance, and regular cleaning. If you are lucky enough to have access to a pool check that out too. If not then check what the costs are likely to be.
- If you have your own belongings and furniture assess as to whether you will need a furniture lifter and whether you can get items through the windows and or doors. Is there space for the lifter unit to stand – also note, a permit may be required usually available from the local council offices at about 2-3 euros.
- As there any outdoor spaces available to you to use privately or shared, if so identify them.
- Are there enough electrical power sockets?
- Gas cooking (oven and hob) is much cheaper to operate than electric.
- Check out all your lighting features.
- Always do an inventory check thoroughly and note any damages or anything missing – get it agreed and signed.
- Check the water pressure as it can be very low and poor service for showers – check the taste of the water. Some people cannot stand the taste of the water and many get used to the taste. Filtered water can be bought in bulk and delivered at regular intervals in 10L or 20L containers.
- Check the water tanks for the security of the lids – make sure they are wired down as insect larva can get in. Also check the toilets for flushing and that the stop cocks work properly.
- TV phone and internet connections – check what’s available – satellite systems check if you can have one installed, if that is what you wish.
- Check for refuse collections, times and days and type of collection.
- Check out how the bills for utilities will be presented to you.
- Make sure you are named on the bills as named registered consumers on the account holder/owners bills, or get your bills in your own name – if you don’t you may have problems later and you could undoubtedly end up paying more than you should. Ask your landlord to complete ARMS Form H to ensure that you, your family or anyone else legally residing with you, are registered as occupants. Form here:
https://www.smartutilities.com.mt/This is for the Landlord to do and enables the renter to get the lowest tariff:
- Do an energy consumption check when you arrive. Check the start readings and after a normal week of consumption check it again and then do a calculation online here: https://mita.gov.mt/billsavings/
- Ensure you get a copy of the two pages bill from ARMs and not just a handwritten or spreadsheet based extract compiled by the landlord.
- Ensure you have a record of the rent paid and utility payments – a rent book is a good idea. Most landlords prefer to be paid cash…NB this may be so the landlord can avoid declaring income for tax.
- Keep your bills and records of payments, this may help you later if you eventually have a problem
Always inspect your water tanks for security of the fittings as once the water is passed the meter it’s your problem to pay for leaked water. As the tanks are usually out of sight on the roof – you could have a leak and not know it – another reason to check consumptions regularly and investigate any major fluctuations.
Also, never ever pay an estimated bill – they are often heavily over estimated – you are not obliged too – you may wish to make a contribution towards the bill by way of the meter service charges as that’s all you are obliged to pay against the estimated bills. You do have 5 days in which to submit the correct readings and as such they have time to amend and submit a new bill.