When it comes to buying a property, you want to make sure that there are no nasty surprises further down the line. Some of the problems that could pop your property bubble include:
You need to be sure that the ‘seller’ is in fact the rightful owner. Trouble with the legal title could be serious. Your notary can check with the Land Register.
Lien on Me
The property might be subject to a lien or warrant. That happens when the seller owes money to a creditor who becomes entitled to the property, even if it is sold to you. The Land Register will have this information too.
There might be third party rights (called servitude), such as another property being entitled to light or a window via your building, an access right, a right to cross the property or a right to use the roof for a water tank. Again, the Land Register can advise. These are not necessarily deal breakers, but it is important to know about them to decide whether you can live with these conditions.
Planning permits might not be in order, effectively making all or part of the building illegal. Ask an architect if you are unsure.
The paper plans might not match the structure. That means the seller gave you out of date plans… or he/she built some additional extras without permission. Get to the bottom of this BEFORE you buy unless you want trouble afterwards.
There could be structural problems with the property. These might be perfectly fixable… or a potential disaster. Check for signs of a leaky or unsound roof, cracks or bulges in the outside walls, sagging floors or any signs of subsidence. Ask the seller what the foundations are like and if in doubt, get advice from an architect.
Can you smell drains? If so, you need to find out why. When you look around the house, flush the toilets and run the showers and sinks. It might feel weird, but you’ll soon see if the drains are backed up or the water pressure is poor.
Ask the seller outright if the property floods and be very wary of buying if they say yes. Look for signs of flooding and ask the neighbours. Remember that flood water can include sewage. Check with insurance agencies as to whether the property is in a flood zone.
A smell of damp is not a total deal breaker, but mould and mildew can be intractable problems in Malta and cost money to put right. If your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems, you might have to look elsewhere. That said, Houses of Character often have damp corners; specialist treatments will help.
You should check for local issues such as the proximity to a toxic dump, subsidence and so on. Look out for any future developments nearby which might affect your property.
To ensure you are getting the best advice, ask your own notary, architect and, if you want, your lawyer, rather than taking recommendations from the seller.
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