At the moment, the number of vacant properties around the Maltese Islands is estimated to be around 40,000. Many such properties, after being closed up for a long time end up derelict or targets of vandalism. One of the major reasons why Malta has such a large number of empty properties is that many of these are inherited and the heirs fails to come to an agreement over their sale.
The Maltese Civil Code currently states that when individuals who have co-ownership of an inherited property fail to come to a point of agreement about its sale within 10 years of having inherited it, the case can be taken to court. An application can be made to the court and the court can come to the conclusion that the property is to be sold in accordance with the wish of the majority of co-owners if the interest of none of the co-owners is compromised.
The Maltese Parliament has recently approved an amendment to the Civil Code after a second reading, whereby co-owners who have inherited a property will be able to sell the property after three years since its inheritance, rather than the present ten-year timeframe.
In the situation where more than half of the heirs are in favour of selling the property, this can be done as soon as three years have elapsed from the inheritance. This amendment is being proposed with the aim of drastically reducing the number of perpetually vacant properties around the island.
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