Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, José Herrera, has launched Malta’s Property Code and Regulations White Paper. The White Paper’s purpose is to present the findings of an assessment, to analyze the institutional, regulatory, and legal context related to the different forms of property exchange. In light of this, the government has launched the initial scoping consultation to collect input from anyone that would like to contribute towards the process. The open consultation will end on February 15, 2016.
The process of buying property requires the input of professionals, who offer protection to buyers against inexperienced practice. There is no doubt that there is the need to ensure that the services rendered by said professionals is of a high quality. The current debate is whether to regulate or deregulate the levels of professional requirements and regulations, since there are substantial differences in the estate agency sector across the EU. One thing that is being considered is ensuring proper education and training that leads to entry into the profession. The White Paper aims to invite public debate on these considerations, with the purpose of drawing up a proposal to establish an institutional and legal framework, as well as a code of conduct and a real estate educational program.
The following practices are addressed in the White Paper: Residential Sales & Lettings; Commercial Sales & Lettings; Condominium Management; and International Sales Agents. The creation of a body to regulate the property negotiation profession, and to serve as a forum for discussions between developers and negotiators, is also being considered. The White Paper assesses the need for an organization to manage the legal framework; promote the profession through membership at agency & individual level; provide for professional education & training; and establish a dispute redress scheme. This has, so far, only been regulated by 12 EU Member States.
The problem with the system that is currently in place is that there is no regulation governing the establishment of estate agents. The result of this is that anybody can present himself/herself as a property negotiator. The White Paper has made a number of proposals to address the shortcomings of the present system. The proposals that are up for consultation include an act to regulate estate agencies, agents, property consultants, and property managers. This will safeguard consumer interests, and promote public confidence in the performance of estate agency work and management. The second proposal is a code of ethics that will cover the conduct between agencies and clients. Additionally, what the White Paper is proposing is an organization to coordinate the efforts of estate agencies, agents, property consultants and property managers in order to promote high quality estate in Malta. Finally, the fourth topic up for consultation relates to international training programs. These proposals aim to ensure that the industry standards are raised.
Once the consultation process is over, a proposal will be forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration.