Thursday, May 21, 2015

Empty and Neglected properties in Sliema

Alfred Gauci Tonna
The Times of Malta, 19 May 2015

Sliema easily takes its place as one of the nicest places in Malta and second after St Paul’s Bay with the most vacant dwellings.

This is a pity as most of these buildings are crumbling to disrepair, without any sign of them being sold or at least rented, as that way they might get a fresh coat of paint on their fa├žade, door and window.

The first thing that indicates a house is empty and neglected is when careless people start depositing their garbage bags on the vacant property’s door step. Besides creating an eyesore, they are a menace to adjacent properties, also affecting their value, as they can easily be used to enter other properties, attracting vandals and other abuse.

In Amsterdam, if an empty property is taken over by squatters, it’s illegal for the owners to evict them. It would be unfair on the owners to implement that law here, but it’s also unfair on the environment and the neighbours to face derelict buildings, sticking out like sore thumbs year in year out.

On the other hand the authorities should make sure the courts speed up cases concerning vacant properties and make it illegal for a few owners to disagree in concluding the sale of such properties. If the majority of owners inheriting the property agree to sell, the others must abide. Whenever I see tourists looking at unoccupied houses, they all say the same thing: “What a shame, why are all these new apartments being built up, when there are so many empty houses lying around?”

Two new laws are needed to reduce the number of empty buildings in Malta. One would be thecreation of an empty-property tax and the second would be the imposition of a stipulated number of years that a building may stay vacant.


  1. Not everyone can afford refurbishment, especially with the prices demanded. New laws have consequences. And they may impinge on our freedom to choose how we invest. I agree that everyone should be responsible for beautifying our country, including tenants. Look upwards at the buildings in the shopping centre in Tower Road. Horrible! But, hey, will we impose extra tax on car owners for having a car they don't drive? For a swimming pool which is never used? Tax is paid on property when purchased, and substantial amounts too. How will a new tax erase ugly-looking buildings? There's a tax on cigarettes; they still smoke!

  2. There are many properties in Sliema which are empty and the heirs do not agree to sell, or worst still some are spending years and years in court. It's a shame and a pity that these properties are not confiscated by the government, taken in his possession and restored to their original beautiful state.