Ground Rent

When a property is given in emphyteusis, that creates a juridical relationship between the transferor (the ‘dominus’) and the transferee (‘the emphyteuta’). One of the conditions is that of a ground rent (ċens), which is paid to the dominus or their successors in title by the transferee or his successors in title.

When a property is acquired this way, the acquirer must pay the annual sum specified as ground rent, and would also have to follow the conditions outlined in the contract which could also restrict what the acquirer is free to do with the property.

There are different types of ground rent. The most important distinctions to understand are those between perpetual, temporary and revisable ground rent.

Perpetual Emphyteusis lasts indefinitely, but can be redeemed at any time (‘jinfeda’) by the current transferee. This is done by paying 20 times the amount of the ground rent to the transferor. This right of redemption is absolute, meaning nobody can interfere or oppose the this. It can be carried out either by having both parties sign a contract in front a notary public, or having the transferee file a schedule of redemption (ċedola) in Court.

Temporary Emphyteusis expires after the stipulated time period in the original contract has elapsed. This means that after the initial grant expires, the property goes back to the dominus or their successor in title. If, however, the emphyteuta is living in the property in question as their ordinary residence, then the law grants them the right to change the title into a lease or perpetual emphyteusis, depending on the circumstances established by law.

Revisable ground rent: This means that ground rent will increase from time to time according to the terms laid out in the original grant—every 25 years, for example. Sometimes, the increase is decided ahead of time (e.g. the ground rent will double every 25 years). However, the ground rent will occasionally increase based on other factors, like the rate of inflation or the average minimum wage at the time of revision. Naturally, this can lead to significant increases.

In the case of a revisable ground rent, the transferee doesn't have the right of redemption any time they wish, and only within a one year starting from each revision. The value of the redemption is calculated on the increased ground rent.

Additional Information

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