Man­ag­ing the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment: The curse of no­taries

Malta Independent - - GEJTU ON TUESDAY - Dr. Joan Ribi

En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Health Po­lit­i­cal Stud­ies As­so­ci­a­tion (UK)

When pur­chas­ing prop­erty, the core busi­ness doc­u­ment is the Con­tract of Sale. This is un­der­taken by no­taries. The con­tract of sale is a defini­tive doc­u­ment on which hangs your claim to the prop­erty. There­fore, select your no­tary only on the ba­sis of rec­om­men­da­tions. If you take pot luck on a no­tary you know noth­ing about, you could suf­fer the im­pact for the rest of the time you own that prop­erty. On the Con­tract of Sale hangs not only your claim to the prop­erty, but also any rights that are as­so­ci­ated with the prop­erty. Hence, it is im­per­a­tive that a Con­tract of Sale also in­cludes any rights as­so­ci­ated with the prop­erty if th­ese rights are to be pro­tected.

One in­trin­si­cally as­sumes that a Con­tract of Sale would in­clude a de­scrip­tion of any as­so­ci­ated rights. That is a wrong as­sump­tion. A no­tary makes it clear that her re­spon­si­bil­ity, according to a Law, is to write the name of the seller, the name of the buyer and the hy­pothec (which prom­ises a peace­ful trans­fer of the prop­erty from seller to buyer). All will be well un­til a sit­u­a­tion arises which con­strains you to ex­am­ine the rights as­so­ci­ated with the prop­erty you bought.

You find to your dis­may, that in fact you do have rights but th­ese de­tails have been left out of the Con­tract of Sale. This puts you at a se­vere dis­ad­van­tage against a pre­tender who de­nies you those rights. In­deed, if you try to add the miss­ing de­tails in an ad­den­dum to the Con­tract of Sale, your no­tary will not do this, claim­ing that it is not their re­spon­si­bil­ity to put such de­tails. Worse still, if you try to en­gage another no­tary to add this ad­den­dum, they will tell you that they do not go into another no­tary’s work. No­taries present yet another ob­sta­cle in ren­o­vat­ing old prop­er­ties (Man­ag­ing Ur­ban En­vi­ron­ments: Le­gal ob­sta­cles, The Malta In­de­pen­dent, 15 Novem­ber 2016).

To be fair, I have only en­gaged fe­male no­taries. Per­haps there is a gen­der dif­fer­ence. Per­haps not. In the mean­time, beware and be aware.

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