As an expat in Malta, you will have most likely noticed that your monthly utility bills can be extremely high. By looking more closely at the ARMS (Automated Revenue Management Services) website – which is the national agency administrating your energy consumption, you will notice that 3 different rates can apply to electricity and water bills, depending on the nature of your lease agreement. What is important to know is that, in most cases, you will pay an increased rate without even knowing it! This is where the so-called Form H comes in. What is it used for and how to obtain it?
Explanation of charges in Malta
First and foremost, it is important to clarify the different rates regarding energy consumption on the island. Even if your consumption is the same as that of your neighbour, you may not have the same monthly charges.
The different rates in Malta
There are 3 different rates for water and electricity. The type of lease agreement should, in theory, determine the rate to be applied.
This is the cheapest of the three. It is applicable when the occupant lives in the accommodation as his main residence.
It is the premium rate, which is applied when the accommodation is declared as a secondary and non-primary residence. In general, it is about 30% higher.
This rate is only applied to commercial premises and should not apply to you if you are a permanent resident of your accommodation. This is the most expensive rate.
Application of rates in practice
Although most expatriates have established their main residence in Malta, surprisingly few pay the residential rate, and instead pay the domestic rate.
Originally, this rate was only intended for secondary housing, which is why it’s more expensive. So why is it that that most accommodation rented by expatriates falls into this category, even though it is their main residence?
Domestic tariff for expatriates: Possible reasons
- Your landlord owns several properties and has not declared yours to be occupied by tenants. Your apartment is therefore considered a secondary residence.
- Your landlord does not want to declare the rent on your home to avoid paying additional taxes.
- Your landlord is afraid or too lazy to do the paperwork involved and is ignorant of any information on the subject.
If the non-declaration from your landlord was made willingly, the housing reform of 2020 should be a game-changer. All owners must now declare their rentals to the Housing Authority which keeps records of, among other things, the number of tenants, the price of the rent and the contract.
What is Form H?
Form H is used for water and electricity consumption and is used to register a change in the number and names of occupants in an accommodation. It must be handed over to ARMS, which administrates the country’s energy consumption.
It is particularly useful as it allows you to benefit from the residential rate for your accommodation in Malta.
How do you know which price you are paying?
Look carefully at the information on the right-hand side of your energy bill, which should include the number of residents and the type of tariff applied (“Consumer Scheme.”)
If the word “Residential” is not present under “Consumer Scheme,” you must complete Form H.
What to do with Form H?
Until recently, it had to be signed by the owner and sent to ARMS for changes in the number of tenants and their names.
It may be difficult to get the form signed by the owner, who may refuse to do so, either because the accommodation is undeclared or through fear of complex administrative formalities.
If you realise that you are not paying the right price, then three options are available to you.
Invoices are already in your name.
In this case, you simply need to fill out Form H and return it to one of the ARMS offices, along with your Maltese ID.
Invoices are not in your name and you want to change it.
If the owner agrees to put the invoices in your name, then he must fill out Form F. You can then more easily change the type of your energy rate.
Invoices are not in your name and you do not want to change it.
The owner may not want to put the invoices in your own name, either because you will not be staying for long in the accommodation or for a better follow up. In this case, you can ask him to sign Form H to transfer the rental declaration to your name. If the owner refuses to sign it, it is no longer a problem. Theoretically, you can sign it yourself and bring it directly to ARMS, along with your rental contract and Maltese ID. You will then be able to benefit from the residential rate.
NB: It is possible to do this online, but we still recommend you to go to the ARMS office for better assistance in your situation.
Form H or Form F?
Form H is used to declare to ARMS a change in the number of persons and the names of tenants residing in the property, for the calculation of monthly charges.
Form F changes the name that appears on invoices for you to have control over them (receipt and management).
Gattard House, National Road. Blata l-Bajda, Malta
ARMS Offices, Old Bakery Street. Valletta, Malta
ARMS Offices, Capuchins Street. Victoria, Gozo
Offices open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in winter and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in summer.
At Gattard House, opening times are from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Phone: +356 8007 2222, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Address: ARMS Ltd. P.O. Box 63, Marsa, MRS 1000, Malta
Form H Summary
You have now been informed about the famous “Form H” and have some strong arguments should your owner be reluctant to sign this document.
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