Town Houses for Rent in Malta
About Malta’s Town House
In almost all villages all over the Maltese Islands you will find the town house, with its wooden, colourful balconies or galleries facing the street. Dating back to the early part of the 20th Century, the town house is a popular and sought-after property with both foreigners and locals.
All town houses are constructed from Maltese limestone with timber finishes for door frames and most importantly, the double entrance doors which have become a national symbol. These doors usually have beautiful brass knockers in a variety of styles and designs: from dolphins to gargoyles, Maltese crosses to Art Nouveau faces, lions and more. In many cases the windows are framed with louvres on either side, which are kept closed during bad weather and especially the hot summer months to keep the town houses cool. The balconies also served a purpose of observing what was going on in the streets below, chatting to neighbours on theirs above ground level or from behind the louvres to preserve the modesty of a young lady of the house during the early part of the 1900’s.
Most standard town houses are not big, but could include a basement as well and are solid and sturdy with thick walls, high ceilings and an entrance hall with glass doors just behind the double front entrance doors. Some larger town houses can have up to seven bedrooms, but are in the minority.
Having as many original features as possible is an asset, as there are many incentives offered by the state to keep these structures in their traditional form. The government of Malta actively encourages the rehabilitation of heritage properties by additionally offering lower stamp duty rates when one buys a property in an Urban Conservation Area. The more original, the bigger the grant will be towards maintaining a structure for future generations.
The interiors almost always feature beautiful, traditional Maltese hand-made tiles on the floors and these were usually overlaid on a compacted soil substrate. Upon expressing interest in buying a townhouse, a thorough inspection is recommended of the floors to see if they need replacement and updating of the underlying layers. This can be waterproofing and reinforcement or complete replacement with a cement base whilst of course preserving the traditional overlay of tiles on top. Many people will even introduce under floor heating during the renovation process.
Town houses always have high ceilings and are airy and bright due to the skylights almost always seen above the stairwells. Staircases were often considered the focal point of the interior and no expense was spared, decorating them with beautiful, sweeping and imposing balustrades made from ornate cast iron.
Upon inspection of the property, keep an eye out for wear of the soft limestone on staircases or for any rising damp. Town houses, in almost all cases, have two bedrooms separated from other rooms, each which had a singular use at the time. One will never find combined living areas in original town houses and if your preference is open-plan living, you will face considerable structural alterations to achieve this look.
Most town houses have a back yard or garden area which in today’s compact living, is highly sought-after and will add value in the future. Look out for a well in this section of the property, as it was a standard feature for almost all during their construction. Many townhouses will have an array of outdoor areas such as the aforesaid, but there may be courtyards, back balconies or access to a roof space which will be ideal for conversion to an outdoor entertainment area during the hot summer months and often these will offer spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Traditional town houses are often considered the official architectural emblem of Malta and have featured in countless books, some specialising in pictures of just the vast array of colourful front doors and their brass fittings.
The most popular areas to buy town houses are Valletta, Birkirkara and Mosta due to its close proximity to all industry, tourism spots, schools and government institutions. Town houses are best suited for families, the urban professional and those that want a lock-up-and-go place to live. Town houses for sale and rent in these areas are also close to the action and many provide extras such as al fresco entertainment areas or a garden and even secure off-street parking or even a garage. Many investors have brought these romantic homes up to the most modern of standards and command favourable rents due to their location, size and layouts. Town houses often offer country-style living in the heart of cosmopolitan environments.