Close

Higher rent in new conract, is this fair?

Hi,

I've been living in a really nice penthouse in Sliema for 1½ years now. The rent started at 750€ and was then bumped up to 800€ on a new contract 6 months ago. I agreed to this without any questioning. It is however now time to renew the contract again (as the previous contract was just for 6 months (the new one is for 12 months)). Now they want to increase the rent with another 50€. Do I have anything at all to say against this? Do note that I'm renting from a large company and I don't even have the arms form filled in so I'm not paying residential fees for water and electricity. (I've argued with them about this and there was apparently no way to have this changed).

The penthouse I have is really, really nice and I know a lot of people who pay more for much less so I consider myself very lucky to have gotten hold of this apartment in the first place. I do however not like to pay anymore than I need to and most importantly, I don't like to be hustled. Should I question the rent increase and if so, what should I say? What makes me hesitant to say anything (even though I hate paying more) is that I believe this apartment would be super easy to rent even if the asking price was 950€ (considering it was in the condition I got it in (there's a bit of wear and tear right now)).

Lastly I just wanted to ask about a paragraph in the contract.

"1. The Lease shall be for a period of twelve months with effect from the 9th October 2016 up to 8th October 2017, both dates included. On the expiry of the said period of twelve months the lease shall be automatically renewed for further periods of six months each, under the same terms and conditions unless prior written notice of termination is given by either party to the other at least one month prior to the expiry of the original twelve-month period or of any one of the renewed periods. This lease shall terminate without any further right of renewal on the expiry of two years from date of commencement. "

My confusion is about the text in bold as I'm interpreting this as I'm only allowed to lease the apartment for a total of 2 years? Or is this 2 years from this new contract?

I'd really appreciate any help I could get on this.

If you know it is worth a lot more than you are paying you can always ask the company to reconsider but as your lease has come to an end they can charge you whatever they like. As you said they could rent it easily for a lot more.
As has been covered dozens of times on this forum, you do not need the landlords permission to get yourself on the residential tariff.
The sentence in bold type is quite clear that the 2 year period commences from the start date of the new lease, 9th October 2016.
It is saying you have the right to renew after the initial year for a further 6 months and then again for another 6 months, after that your right ceases and you would have to negotiate a new lease. It means very little as they say they can terminate the lease with 1 months notice before the end of any lease period anyway!

Ray

@illerille.

Re: Excerpt from your post - ‘….Do note that I'm renting from a large company and I don't even have the arms form filled in so I'm not paying residential fees for water and electricity. (I've argued with them about this and there was apparently no way to have this changed)……..’ 

On 10th June, 2016, the European Commission reported as follows:

'.........On 26 May 2016, the Maltese authorities informed the Commission that they aim at introducing changes in the application process for residential tariffs and that "the new process will no longer require the endorsement of the Form H by the landlord or account holder, in the case of an application submitted by the tenant".

The Maltese authorities explained that, as suggested by the European Commission during their contacts, the tenant will only be required to submit a copy of the rental agreement.

These changes should be made effective by the end of October 2016…….

…..As to the applications for redress [REFUNDS for water and electricity consumption tariff overcharges] the Commission understands that also tenants are entitled to submit such applications…..’

Thanks a lot for the reply guys! Would you mind just redirecting me to where I can submit the rental agreement or read more about this?

illerill :

Thanks a lot for the reply guys! Would you mind just redirecting me to where I can submit the rental agreement or read more about this?

This link will take you to the ARMS Ltd page and you will find the forms under downloads.

Form H for registering, instructions as to what you need to submit with the form are shown on it and then just take it to your local ARMS office or presumably you could post it.

Ray

I guess it really depends on your definition of "fair". If the flat is under-priced then one would suggest it is fair, if on the other hand they are just arbitrarily putting up the rent every time they can - then it may not be.

Either way there is no harm in asking the agent to negotiate it down, maybe to 25,

It's probably under priced considering what most people pay and get. I'm just not used to rent increases like these where I'm from.

I noticed that it also says in the contract that any VAT due or any other tax or charge which may be due at any time shall be payable by me. I guess this refers to water and electricity, but I just wanted to double check with you guys as well so there is nothing fishy. I don't know if I'm paranoid or just prefer to be safe than sorry.

Fishy.

1) In your circumstances, any VAT in excess of that already included in ARMS Ltd. water and electricity bills may not be imposed.

2) As of February, 2016, non-Maltese workers or self-employed individuals may NO LONGER be subject to the imposition of 7% (seven per cent) value added tax (VAT) on the rent payable for leased accommodation.

In this regard, please see:

5th February, 2016 - ACT No. XII of 2016 - AN ACT to amend the Malta Travel and Tourism Services Act, Cap. 409.

2. In article 2 of the principal Act, for the definition "tourist" there shall be substituted the following: " "tourist" means any person who is travelling to and staying in places outside his usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other personal purpose OTHER THAN BY TAKING UP EMPLOYMENT OR TO ESTABLISH A BUSINESS in the place visited.".

Source: http://justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadD … 05&l=1

Seek advice from a lawyer.

Thanks a lot for the reply.

So if I understand you correctly, they could with this contract charge me that 7% on every month's rent?

Do you know where I could get a hold of a lawyer to help me with this? Do you have any idea what it would cost?

Re: Your question - 'So if I understand you correctly, they could with this contract charge me that 7% on every month's rent?'

Reply: No.

Basically anything less than a 1 year rental is considered a holiday let by the Tourist Board, unless you are working in which case you obviously are not a tourist, and the rental is subject to VAT (this would normally be included in the agreed rental).
Our very first lease property was for 13 months as the Landlord, who also had holiday lets, did that to be sure of not being liable for VAT.

Ray

This is really confusing. Do you think I have anything to worry about or not? I just don't want to receive a huge bill the day I decide to move to another department.

Regarding ARMS, it's the ARMS H form I should fill in, correct? When this is filled in and sent to ARMS, is it still the landlord (the company I'm renting from) who will pay the electricity and water or will I receive the bills? Because right now I'm paying 100€ in advance for electricity and water.

It is down to what you agreed with the Landlord, ours gives us the bill and we pay it. He does not even ask for the bill back, he can see it's been paid when the next bill comes in. 
Our friends landlord pays it and then they give him the money when they pay the rent with him giving them a copy of the bill.
I would not be happy to pay the utilities in advance and €100, presumably monthly, seems a lot, our 2 monthly bill is only about €120 for 2 people in a 3 bedroom house.

Do you get a copy of the bills?

Ray

We've got the same VAT wording in our contract, I think it's standard to cover their backs and nothing to worry about.  They can't charge you VAT on your rent.

We pay our landlord €150 a month towards water and electric, he sorted form H out for us.  All landlords will do it differently, with ours he wanted to see our usage over a full year, but we don't use anywhere near that amount.  Rather than amend the contract we agreed to just not pay rent for a month at the end of the year and we still overpay now. We're okay with that though.  If it gets too high again we'll miss a months rent.

Regardless of who pays the bill, you can calculate how much you actually need to pay (or should have paid) with the ARMS calculator - just google it, fill in the readings from your water and electricity meter, and choose the tariff you're on (if you haven't filled in form H yet, you'd be on residential with 0 persons registered).

As for paying an estimate for the utilities in advance, I never had any problems with it as I'm used to it from Austria, where the bills are always estimated in advance and any difference is charged or paid back after one year (there are different providers for electricity, water and gas, district heating, etc., but it always works like that with any provider - there are no real-time bills.. This actually means that if you've got central heating, you've got to pay for heating throughout the whole year even if you only use it in winter.)

BTW: 100 euro/month seems a bit high to me, too. We use about 60 euros worth of water & electricity a month, but we're a family of 4, with two kids who like to have a hot bath every evening. That's without form H, as Malta isn't our primary place of residence (yet)...

F0xgl0ve :

It is down to what you agreed with the Landlord, ours gives us the bill and we pay it. He does not even ask for the bill back, he can see it's been paid when the next bill comes in. 
Our friends landlord pays it and then they give him the money when they pay the rent with him giving them a copy of the bill.
I would not be happy to pay the utilities in advance and €100, presumably monthly, seems a lot, our 2 monthly bill is only about €120 for 2 people in a 3 bedroom house.

Do you get a copy of the bills?

Ray

I'm fine with paying 100€ in advance. It was 80€ to being with, but I was using way more than that last year so I had to pay 500€ extra after a year. So I asked them myself to raise it to 100€ + I'm saving another 100€ myself just in case. I'm using a lot of AC and water, however I have been cutting down since I got that huge bill. I guess since I'm not on residential fees, this bumps up the price a lot as well.

When it comes to the bills they are however really, really bad with this. I've lived here for 1½ years and I've only received copies of the bills once. This was 10 months ago now. So the last 10 months I have no idea of. I've just sent an e-mail about this though so let's say what they say.

Since my landlord is paying the bills (and should give me the copies of the receipts) I guess there will be no difference after I've filled in the arms H form? They will just receive smaller bills?

I think perhaps you have a bigger problem with your landlord regarding utility bills then being on the right tariff. I would insist on a copy of each bill, which is normally issued every 2 months.
Also, as Bernie said, take note of the meter readings and use the ARMS calculator to work it out yourself both as it stands and with you as a resident
https://www.smartutilities.com.mt/wps/p … VAQ16h1Q!/

Ray

The huge water and electricity bill differentials - up to 103% - for IDENTICAL water and electricity consumption - between 'domestic' rated and 'residential' rated 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 person households may be accessed here - Which tariff is 'just right'?:

Source: http://maltatenantsupport.weebly.com/bl … hree-rates

I appreciate all the help guys.

I just received a PDF file showing meter readings as well as what I've been depositing. It seems correct to me and I also double checked meters and calculated it on arms. Even though I'm paying 100€ in advance right now, I'm currently -340€. As I said, I'm consuming a lot, but I guess being on that non-residential tariff also makes a huge difference.

I did however not receive any receipts for the bills paid, so I guess I should be asking for this as well.

Hm... I just checked ARMS choosing residential rate instead on the calculator. I then got a total bill of 3764€ instead of 2577€. What am I missing here? It should be cheaper, no?

My water readings from 9th of April 2015 is 1 to 384 = 383.

My electricity readings from 9th of April 2015 is 650 - 11200 = 10470.

Is it just you?  Your bills do seem very high, especially your water.  I've no idea why it's coming out so high, it does seem wrong but I don't know why.  It's the water that seems to be pushing it up, someone else might be able to help with why it's showing more with form H. 

We live in a three bed apartment, two adults, a seventeen year old and a six year old and we use half the amount of water as you. It just seem very high, I'd probably get that checked for a leak if you haven't already.

illerill :

It's probably under priced considering what most people pay and get.

You answered your own question pal.Yes its fair.

Does anyone know on here who is responsible for common parts i.e. Lift, Lift Maintenance, Cleaning Stairwells etc is it Tenants or Landlords responsibility because with our present Landlord we get charged for this monthly.

Terry

Terry4646 :

Does anyone know on here who is responsible for common parts i.e. Lift, Lift Maintenance, Cleaning Stairwells etc is it Tenants or Landlords responsibility because with our present Landlord we get charged for this monthly.

Terry

If they are not expressly specified in your rental contract, you pay nothing.

Fionn,

Thankyou for your quick reply to my query,

Terry

Sam4321 :

Is it just you?  Your bills do seem very high, especially your water.  I've no idea why it's coming out so high, it does seem wrong but I don't know why.  It's the water that seems to be pushing it up, someone else might be able to help with why it's showing more with form H. 

We live in a three bed apartment, two adults, a seventeen year old and a six year old and we use half the amount of water as you. It just seem very high, I'd probably get that checked for a leak if you haven't already.

It's me and my girlfriend, but it was as high when I lived by myself. I use the dishwasher a lot and I have a penthouse with a two large terraces which I clean regularly as well. Plus in the summer I use the hose to cool myself a lot as well.

No one who knows how it can be more expensive with residential fees? It would be kind of catastrophic if I filled the ARMS H form and increased my bills by doing so.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Malta

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Malta

Moving to Malta

Find tips from professionals about moving to Malta

Travel insurance in Malta

Enjoy a stress-free travel across Malta

Flights to Malta

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to Malta