Expired or Expiring Emphyteutical Concessions Regulations, 2023 – LN 161/2023

The regulations in this legal notice shall apply to all expired emphyteutical concessions or emphyteutical concessions in Malta which expire prior to the 31st of December 2030. However, the regulations shall not apply to the following emphyteutical concessions:

1. Any emphyteutical concession that was originally approved by a special resolution of the House of Representatives;
2. Any emphyteutical concession granted on land exceeding a footprint of 1,500m2;
3. Any emphyteutical concession that was granted for a kiosk;
4. Any emphyteutical concession granted following a call for tender process;
5. Any emphyteutical concession granted regarding agricultural or rural land and where the land to which the concession relates is included in a Development Zone.

The Land Authority has the authority to grant an agricultural lease if an emphyteuta already had an expired or expiring emphyteutical concession granted on agricultural land which has farms or other buildings with the purpose of keeping cattle for rearing and fattening of any other domestic animals. This shall also be applicable in cases where they keep cattle for rearing and fattening or any other domestic animals but don’t have any buildings built.

If the emphyteutical concession has expired, an application prescribed by the Lands Authority must be submitted within 3 years from the date when these regulations come into force. If it isn’t submitted within those 3 years, the application will be invalid. On the other hand, if the emphyteutical concession is going to expire, the application must be submitted before the end of the emphyteutical concession’s term. If it isn’t submitted within that time period, the application will be invalid.

If there is more than 1 recognised emphyteuta, any of them can give up their rights under this regulation by means of a sworn declaration to the other emphyteutae.

These regulations grant emphyteutical concession to be valid for 50 years starting from the date of publication of the concession.
In order to occupy the property, the recognised emphyteuta shall pay 1 lump sum from the date on which the emphyteutical concession expired until the date on which the new emphyteutical concession is published or the new agricultural lease is signed. The lumpsum shall be calculated according to the terms and conditions of the original concession.

The annual rent for an agricultural lease shall be calculated according to the rates for ground rents on agricultural land as established by the Lands Authority.

On the other hand, any other lands referred to in these regulations, shall have an annual ground rent of 2% of the open market value of the free and unencumbered land, depending on its recognised use. This shall then be revised every 10 years and shall increase at a rate of 10%. However, any improvements made thereon shall not be taken into consideration. The value shall be determined by means of an expert valuation, as per Article 79 of the Government Lands Act (Chapter 573).

The Lands Authority shall consider applications to be valid after all the necessary requirements have been satisfied. It is within their remit of power to request any other information/ documentation that is needed to process the application. Thus, they also have the right to suspend/ deny any application if the land which the application relates to proposes a legal challenge.

Additionally, the applicant needs to provide a signed declaration confirming the accuracy of their application and stating that no undisclosed information would have resulted in the application being rejected by the Lands Authority. The emphyteuta may not excuse themselves from omitting facts with the reason that the Authority was already aware of the facts.

Any expenses due relating to the necessary expert valuation and the execution of the emphyteutical concession or the agricultural lease, must be paid by the applicant no later than the date of signing of the emphyteutical concession or agricultural lease, since they shall not be signed until they are paid.

It is within the Lands Authority’s discretion to reject any application, but the reasons as to why it was rejected must be done in writing. Moreover, the Authority has the right to bring an action before the First Hall Civil Court to seek the cancellation of an agricultural lease or emphyteutical concession if it was approved based on incorrect information or a mistake. This is possible when, without the incorrect information or mistake, the Authority would have denied the application. However, the applicant has the right to appeal such a decision, as per Article 57 of the Lands Authority Act.

The Authority shall not be held responsible for any damages or compensation arising from its actions carried out in accordance with these regulations.