'Quarter of dwellings not permanently used, proves Maltese are investing in property' - MDA

The Malta Developers Association argued that the Census' grouping of vacant, secondary and seasonally used properties portrays negatively the fact that Maltese families are investing in a second home

2021 Census found that just over a quarter of all dwellings (81,613) were not used permanently
2021 Census found that just over a quarter of all dwellings (81,613) were not used permanently

The Malta Developers Association said that Census findings that a quarter of dwellings in Malta were not used permanently is positive rather than negative, as it shows that Maltese are investing in a second home.

The developers’ lobby was reacting to the 2021 Census of Population and Housing report that found that just over a quarter of all dwellings (81,613) were not used permanently and consisted in secondary, seasonally used, or completely vacant dwellings.

MDA said that the fact that the quarter of dwellings are grouped together as secondary, seasonally used or vacant, tends to give a negative perspective when in fact a deeper dive shows a positive picture of the property industry.

It said that the National Statistics Office is currently unable to separate between these three types of dwelling categories, since the status of these dwellings could not always be determined during the fieldwork.

The NSO said that "this situation is common in any Census, as the status of secondary, seasonally used or vacant dwellings is typically assigned based on information provided by neighbours or the condition of the dwellings themselves. Sometimes this can be highly subjective."

The lobby said that one must rely on the property market experience encountered by its members and the general public.

“It is a known fact that renting and buying existing property is becoming increasingly difficult. Thus, the idea of these dwellings being mostly vacant does not hold,” MDA said.

It argued that Maltese families are choose the invest in a second home, either for themselves or to rent out for long or short lets.

“This has become a standard additional source of revenue for many families. Furthermore, since the last Census, a flat 15% tax has been introduced on rentals, thus discouraging the black economy, and having such property declared.”

MDA said that not only around 80% of Maltese are homeowners, but now they also invest in a second and third property.

“Vacant property is definitely less of a factor today than before, and in most cases, it is directly related to long-winded Court disputes related to inheritance.”

MDA argued that the higher rate-of-increase of primary residences (41.2%) to secondary, seasonally used, or vacant dwellings (14.8%), further proves the resilience and good health of the property market.

It added that this confirms that each generation of Maltese chooses to buy its residence and sees it as an investment.

“It is also obvious that the profile of the Maltese family and the affordability of housing has an impact on the type of dwellings being developed,” MDA said.