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The Advantages of Buying a Property in a UCA Area


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Properties located in an UCA can be old or new, but both benefit from concessions as introduced by the Maltese government. In fact, there may not be a more opportune time to acquire and renovate historical properties in Malta or Gozo, particularly those situated within these Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs). This initiative aims to invigorate this specific sector of the real estate market and safeguard the longevity of the nation's cultural heritage structures as well as promote new buildings to adhere to typical Maltese design principles.

Being the proud owner of or leasing a historic property located within an Urban Conservation Area has become exceptionally appealing to many locals and foreigners. By law, all properties in Malta's Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) must be overseen and

regulated by Malta's Planning Authority to comply with the Cultural Heritage Act. These homes are not only scarce, beautiful, distinctive and culturally significant but also come with important responsibilities.

Which areas fall under UCA?

Below find the current alphabetical list of UCA areas in Malta and Gozo:

  1. Attard
  2. Balzan
  3. Birgu
  4. Birkirkara
  5. Birzebbuga
  6. Bormla
  7. Dingli
  8. Floriana
  9. Fontana
  10. Ghajnsielem
  11. Gharb
  12. Gharghur
  13. Ghasri
  14. Ghaxaq
  15. Gudja
  16. Hamrun
  17. Haz-Zebbug
  18. Isla
  19. Kalkara
  20. Kercem
  21. Kirkop
  22. Lija
  23. Luqa
  24. Marsa
  25. Marsascala
  26. Marsaxlokk
  27. Mdina
  28. Mellieha
  29. Mgarr
  30. Mgarr
  31. Mosta
  32. Mqabba
  33. Msida
  34. Munxar
  35. Nadur
  36. Naxxar
  37. Paola
  38. Pieta
  39. Qala
  40. Qormi
  41. Qrendi
  42. Rabat
  43. Rabat (Gozo) / Victoria
  44. Safi
  45. San Lawrenz
  46. Sannat
  47. Santa Venera
  48. Siggiewi
  49. Sliema
  50. St Julians
  51. St Paul’s Bay
  52. Ta’ Xbiex
  53. Tarxien
  54. Valletta
  55. Xaghra
  56. Xewkija
  57. Zabbar
  58. Zebbug (Gozo)
  59. Zejtun
  60. Zurrieq

What are the criteria for purchasing a property located in a UCA and benefitting from the grant or concessions?

  • You have to be a legal Maltese resident
  • Be 18 years or older at the time you submit your application
  • Be the legitimate owner of a property located in a recognised UCA
  • Be the legitimate owner of a private residential property that is older than 20 years
  • Be the owner of a property that has been standing vacant for more than seven years: you will have to prove with applicable ARMS documents this has been the case and additionally obtain a registered architect’s certificate of exactly when the property was built
  • When it is a new property, it needs to be one that conforms to the required guidelines as set out by the government

Is there a cut-off date for the grant?

Grants and incentives are accessible to individuals who meet the criteria mentioned above, including those who have already made a purchase or are contemplating acquiring such properties for completion and restoration. The existing legislation encompasses restoration activities conducted on eligible properties between October 12, 2021, and December 31, 2024.

Completed works on a property for which fiscal receipts were issued, can also be eligible for refunds for the following:

Current and prospective owners of qualifying properties may also be eligible for a VAT refund of up to €54,000 on the initial €300,000 spent on refurbishment works. This affects:

  • The hire of equipment,
  • materials,
  • professional fees such as consultancy by specialists, project management fees and an architect’s fees,
  • labour,
  • charges by the government that are directly related to the finishing and restoration of the property and lastly
  • planning permit fees

This program provides reimbursement for eligible costs associated with the restoration and completion of privately owned residential properties within Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs), properties that have been constructed for over 20 years and have remained vacant for more than seven years, and new properties developed in accordance with approved criteria reflecting older property features. Specific guidelines have been issued by the government regarding this.

The incentive came into effect on 12th October 2021 and will be in force until 31st December 2024.

What happens if I am a First-Time Buyer as well purchasing a property in an UCA?

  • The stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers has been extended once more, encompassing the first €200,000 of a property's purchase price.
  • First-time buyers of older homes, as outlined previously, are eligible to apply for a restoration grant of €15,000. If the purchase is in Gozo, this grant increases to €30,000.

Additional initiatives supporting the preservation of historic structures:

  • Properties situated in Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs), which have been unoccupied for over 7 years and were constructed more than 20 years ago, will be exempted from capital gains tax and duty for the initial €750,000.
  • This exemption is also applicable to properties recognized as being designed and constructed in the traditional Maltese style, incorporating authentic Maltese architectural elements.
  • Eligibility extends to those who have entered into a promise of sale but have not yet finalized the signing of the contract.

Additional savings may be possible as follows:

If you meet all the requirements, you may also be entitled to:

  • Receiving a VAT refund of up to €54,000 for the initial €300,000 spent on renovating your older property.
  • Second-time buyers will receive a refund on the initial €86,000 of the new property's purchase price,
  • Increasing to €150,000 for individuals with disabilities who reside in the property with their guardians.

The protection of grants - actions that may lead to the repayment of a grant

After a particular property has benefitted from any of the grants,

  • It cannot be divided or subdivided.
  • The quantity of residential units must remain unchanged.
  • Any departure from the specified parameters outlined in the legal notice issued at the time of the grant, including any form of property redevelopment, will necessitate the owner repaying the grant in its entirety.

What are the criteria that disqualify a property from being eligible for any of the grants?

  • Any illegalities
  • Any unauthorized works that have been undertaken on the property requiring sanction
  • Properties subject to pending PA enforcement or regularization cases

Please be aware that:

  • No VAT refunds will be provided for additions, improvements, alterations, or demolition works that are not considered finishing or restoration.
  • Artefacts, movable objects, furnishings, and their reconstruction and conservation lacking historical evidence in design or detail will also be disqualified.

If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits you can derive from the various incentives available, visit us at 211 Tower Road, Sliema or call us on (+356) 2277 0620, alternatively email us at info@hoq.com.mt