Government Incentives for Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs)
Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) in Malta
There are several beautiful and historically important villages in Malta, some of which are protected zones. These zones fall under the title of “Urban Conservation Areas” (UCAs) which are essentially areas of architectural or historic importance that, by law, are carefully protected, preserved and managed. Such areas often comprise centuries-old farmhouses or houses of character possessing traditional balconies, brightly painted windows and doors, and even old features such as wells, troughs, or horse tethering rings. The streets in the area may be twisting and narrow with small alleyways or limestone paved stairways for pedestrians on the side.
Owning or renting a historic Maltese home in an Urban Conservation Area is highly desirable. They are beautiful, unique, and of deep cultural importance, but it is also an important responsibility. The properties in Malta’s UCAs are, by law, required to be managed and monitored by Malta’s Planning Authority in order to abide by Malta’s Cultural Heritage Act. When one owns a historic building, one has a responsibility to preserve it for future generations and studies of Malta’s architectural styles.
These culturally important buildings span a wide period of time. Some of the architecture in these areas even stems from the Knight’s period (between 1530 and 1798) when the islands of Malta and Gozo were vassal states of the Kingdom of Sicily and ruled by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. This Baroque style (late 16th to early 18th century) is characterized by flourishes and details that attest to the stateliness of the period. During the British Empire (early 19th to early 20th centuries), the Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical architectural styles reigned. This is characterized by stately colonnades and arches. Both of these important periods influenced the later architecture of Malta during the early 20th century, becoming fused into a traditional Maltese style. Although after World War II, the more modernist approach towards building took over, today a great many of these earlier architectural styles are still extant and can be spotted everywhere throughout the country.
Unfortunately, today many of these old buildings are rundown or, worse yet, in a state of dilapidated ruin. Fortunately, action is being taken. Malta’s Environment and Planning Authority has put aside money, in the form of government schemes, housing authority grants, and property tax rebates, to help assist home buyers to restore such old buildings– These government grants have been created to promote the conservation of Malta’s threatened oldest buildings. Malta’s various UCA schemes are a much-needed incentive to promote the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage.
As per the Ministry of Finance, Malta’s 2022 budget is allowing “eligible applicants may apply twice on each property for a grant of 18% on the costs of restoration and finishing up to an aggregate maximum of €54,000 for each property.”
This is a wonderful incentive that is not only meaningful to the entire country, but can personally benefit you and your family, as well!
Urban Conservation Areas Schemes in Malta
Malta Capital Gains Tax and Stamp Duty Exemption
New homeowners in UCAs can now qualify for an exemption on the first €750,000 of Malta’s Stamp Duty (also known as Malta’s ‘bolla’), as long as the property meets at least one of the following criteria:
- It is located in an Urban Conservation Area (UCA)
- It was built over 20 years ago and has been vacant for more than seven years
- It is newly built, but displays traditional typical Maltese style and architecture
(These UCA grants will be available up until at least October 2024)
First Time Buyer’s Incentive
First Time Buyers can also qualify for a stamp duty (bolla) exemption on the first €200,000 of the property’s total purchase price. If the property fits into one of the criteria listed above (located in an Urban Conservation Area, built over 20 years ago and vacant over 7 years, or built with traditional Maltese style architecture), another additional grant of €15,000 can be used for restoration. If the property is located in Gozo, the UCA grant can increase up to €30,000.
(These property grants will be available up until at least October 2024)
Restoration Work Vat Refund
Funds spent on refurbishment works can qualify for a VAT refund totalling up to €54,000 for the initial €300,000 spent.
Restoration costs can cover:
- Construction Materials
- Equipment Rental
- Exterior and Interior Doors
- Tiles and Marble
- Electricity and Plumbing Work
- Exterior and Interior Finishing
- Painting and Plastering
Other administrative expenses are also covered:
- Project management Fees
- Architect’s Fees
- Specialist Consultation
- Planning Permit Fees
- Extra Labour Expenses
Applicants are allowed to apply for Malta’s government grants on multiple properties with a maximum award of €54,000 for each property.
(These Housing Authority grants will be available up until 31 December 2024.)
Several of these UCA house schemes will only be available for the next few years, so it’s best to act soon if you want to take advantage of Malta’s 2022 budget!
Who is Eligible for these Property Grants?
Any Maltese citizen who is over 18 years old and owns a home is eligible to qualify for Malta’s property grants and tax rebates.
Where are Urban Conservation Areas in Malta?
Urban Conservation Areas are scattered throughout the Maltese islands.
Here is Malta’s UCA list separated by region:
St Paul’s Bay
Rabat (Gozo) / Victoria
We recommend researching every village on Malta’s UCA list in order to get a feel of which one suits you best.
Applying for Malta’s UCA Certificate
You will have to make sure that your property is eligible before purchasing. Malta’s Environment and Planning Authority issues UCA Certificates to that effect. To find out more about UCA Malta House Schemes, please visit finance.gov.mt
You could do worse than owning and restoring a beautiful old House of Character or Farmhouse and saving on property tax and stamp duties!
Feel free to call our offices to learn more. We are always ready to help you in all your property needs!