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CIR 13/20 | COVID-19 Pandemic: Site inspections and site operating procedures // Update 6

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, periti were among one of the first groups of economic operators to adapt their working practices in so far as their offices are concerned. In a survey carried out by the Kamra tal-Periti in the beginning of March, periti reported to have already implemented various social distancing measures, including the cancellation of non-essential meetings and subsequently the introduction of video conferencing, sanitisation of their office environment, and in 56% of cases the introduction of remote working.

While periti have a significant amount of control over their office environment, the same cannot be said for construction sites, and in situations where periti are required to inspect occupied properties for varied reasons.

The following are some practical guidelines to be followed in order to minimise the risks of contraction of  COVID-19. These have been approved by the Health Authorities.

 

Inspections of occupied residential properties

It is recommended that prior to inspecting an occupied residential property, the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – if the latter is not the case, the procedures set out in Circular 11/20 are to be followed.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • There is not more than one person present in the property;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Inspections of occupied commercial properties

The measures to be applied will depend on the nature of the property in question, its size, density of occupation and also on the purpose of the perit’s inspection. In general, however, it is recommended that prior to inspection the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

 

For the purposes of the above, a “regular occupant” is considered to be an owner or employee or consultant or client or service provider or any other person who regularly accesses the property, and who has visited the property during the 15 days prior to the date of inspection.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • The number of people present in the property is kept to the bare minimum essential for the inspection to be carried out;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Construction site inspections and meetings

In the case of construction sites, it is recommended that declarations similar to the ones outlined above are obtained from the contractor/s with regard to their workforce. These may include:

  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are meant to be under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site are meant to be under mandatory quarantine for any reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declaration that none of the personnel fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

In the case of sites where regular inspections are carried out, it may not be feasible to require these declarations prior to each and every inspection. It is recommended that the declaration is requested initially, and that the contractor/s is/are requested to inform the perit, the owner and the Project Supervisor immediately upon registering any change to the declarations. Periti may request a declaration at regular intervals, for example once a month.

In addition, it is recommended that:

  • Only personnel who are absolutely necessary for the site inspection to be carried out are present on site at the time of inspection
  • Attendees should maintain a distance of 2m from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated and windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Wherever possible, meetings should be held outdoors

 

Construction site operating procedures

It is also important that the welfare of all personnel on sites is catered for at all times. This may be easier to achieve on larger sites, where contractors may be better equipped to provide certain facilities. Nevertheless it is recommended that all contractors are encouraged to implement as many measures as possible on their sites in order to minimise as much as possible the risks of exposure.

The Kamra tal-Periti has prepared a guidance note – Site Operating Procedures | Guidelines for construction sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is based on various recommendations by international organisations, and has also been presented to the local Health Authorities.

It is recommended that periti forward this document to their clients, and to the contractor/s and Project Supervisors appointed on the site which fall under their responsibility, and that these are encouraged to implement these measures for the safety of all.

 

 

General measures

In addition to the above, the following guidance documents issued by the local Health Authorities are being referred for your perusal:

 

Furthermore, it is recommended that periti wear community masks while carrying out their duties as outlined above, in addition to the standard PPE, and that they use sanitiser whenever necessary.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 12/20 | Transposition of EU Directive 2018/844

Two new Legal Notices have been recently published to transpose Directive (EU) 2018/844 on the energy performance of  buildings and on energy efficiency.

 

LN133 of 2020_Energy Efficiency and Cogeneration (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice obliges the Building Regulation Board to issue a long-term strategy for mobilising investment in the renovation of buildings, and to update such strategy every three years.

 

LN134 of 2020_Energy Performance of Buildings (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice amends the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations to bring them in line with Directive (EU) 2018/844. There are a number of changes that relate mainly to building engineering services, and it is recommended that you advise your clients and their consulting services engineers of the contents of these new regulations in so far as they are applicable to your projects.

It also obliges the Building Regulation Board to “establish a long-term renovation strategy to support the renovation of the national stock of residential and non-residential buildings, both public and private, into a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, facilitating the cost-effective transformation of existing buildings into nearly zero-energy buildings.” Furthermore it obliges the Building Regulation Office to undertake various provisions for financial assistance to improve energy performance of buildings and to establish regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems.

 

 

Two new Regulations of particular relevance to periti are Regulation 5(5) and Regulation 5(10) which stipulate that:

 

5(5) “New non-residential buildings and non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with at least one recharging point within the meaning of Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric cables, for at least one in every five parking spaces to enable the installation at a later stage of recharging points for electric vehicles where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

5(10) “New residential buildings and residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric  cables, for every parking space to enable the installation, at a later stage, of recharging points for electric vehicles, where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electric infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

Although the Legal Notice gives power to the Minister to exempt certain types of buildings, no such exemptions have as yet been issued, and therefore these Regulations are considered applicable to all situations as outlined above. One of the situations contemplated in the Regulations where the Minister may issue exemptions concerns those building where the relevant applications have been submitted prior to 10 March 2021. The Kamra will be corresponding with the Minister to apply such exemption in order to allow the market to adjust accordingly, however until then the provisions of the regulations must be implemented.

 

Regulation 9 includes an obligation on EPC assessors to “provide information to the owners or tenants of buildings on energy performance certificates, including their purpose and objectives, on cost-effective measures and, where appropriate, financial instruments, to improve the energy performance of the building, and on replacing fossil fuel boilers with more sustainable alternatives.

While trusting that you will peruse the new regulations, please do not hesitate to contact the Kamra tal-Periti through email on buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org should you have any queries.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 10/20 | COVID-19 – We are not Immune // Update 5

This Circular is being issued to update you on a number of actions taken by the Kamra tal-Periti in the past couple of weeks, namely:

 

  1. Survey of the profession
  2. Submission of proposals for a National Strategy for economic measures
  3. Economic measures currently applicable for periti
  4. Safety on construction sites in view of COVID-19

 

Further details on each of these points are outlined below.

 

1. Survey of the profession

 

The outcome of the first two surveys of the profession carried out last month were instrumental in our discussions with Government on the difficulties being experience by periti, as further outlined below. The results of those surveys have been published in our COVID-19 Impact on Periti Bulletin 01 and Bulletin 02.

 

The third round of the survey is now open until Friday 10th April 2020 at noon. Before commencing the survey you will need to have the following information at hand:

  • Number of staff you employ, split by provenance (Maltese, EU, and non-EU) and gender
  • Number of open sites under your direction split by predominant activity (demolition and site clearance, excavation, construction and finishes/services, and the number of those which pose risks of danger and/or damage to third parties if the works are stopped suddenly in the eventuality of a lockdown.
  • Average monthly turnover for 2019, and turnover for January, February and March to date (questions in this section request details in % terms but you will need the raw data to work these out)

Your response is highly important, even if you have already participated in previous rounds, since it will enable us to report trends in the profession to Government. I urge you to dedicate some time to this exercise to ensure that our data will be as representative of the profession as possible.

 

 

 

2. Submission of proposals for a National Strategy for economic measures

 

Over the past three weeks, the Kamra tal-Periti met with four other professional bodies, practically on a daily basis, to discuss how the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their professional activities and those of the significant number of persons working within those professional practices.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti, the Chamber of Advocates, the Dental Association of Malta, the Kunsill Notarili ta’ Malta and the Malta Institute of Accountants share the firm belief that our professions form an integral part of the community we live and practice in, and that we have a duty to contribute our experience and expertise towards a balanced solution to the economic issues being faced by the country as a whole.

 

On Wednesday 1st April 2020, representatives of each of the professional bodies met with Minister Silvio Schembri and presented our proposals for:

  • a National Strategy for economic measures to be considered by Government in addressing the severe economic and social difficulties that have been brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  • a set of measures aimed at assisting our professions within the context of the national strategy proposed.

 

 

It is evident from the surveys carried out by the professional bodies among their members that, whilst the full extent of the impact going forward is as yet unknown, the immediate impact has been severe and the outlook bleak. If this situation were to be prolonged, it will place self-employed professionals under significant pressure to meet their payment obligations and will place firms under severe pressure with under-utilised human resources to meet their significant salary bills.

In our proposals to Government, we acknowledged that there are economic sectors in the country that can be considered as “higher impact” and that any economic measures of state intervention are to prioritise those sectors; indeed we concurred with the strategy of Government to do so, however cautioned that the professions are not immune to this environment.

 

The six measures proposed to Government specifically for the professions can be found in this presentation.

 

Minister Schembri was receptive to the proposals and indeed he expressed agreement in principle with the submissions made. The issue of debate is really how and when would be the right time to implement them, given that Government had to prioritise other sectors with urgency since the difficulties in those were more pronounced. The Minister also stated that in any event these measures cannot be adopted across the board within professions, and that even within the same profession one would have to make the case that assistance was necessary.

Any scheme that will be in place would need to have sufficient flexibility to enable it to be applied on a case by case basis, taking into account, within each profession, who required the assistance most. Not all periti are in the same boat, and some would require assistance more than others, or indeed before others. In this context he reiterated his agreement in principle with the proposals and directed the professions to make further representations with the Ministers responsible for their respective professions.

In fact, we have written to the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, under whose remit the profession falls, requesting a meeting wherein we shall be stressing the importance of the introduction of these measures to give assurance to our profession that assistance will be available at the right time and in the right measure.

 

 

3. Economic measures currently applicable for periti

 

On Monday 6th April 2020, Minister Schembri confirmed that, as a first step, Government will be extending the possibility of postponement of taxes to those professionals who can genuinely show that they are in difficulty of paying such dues. This was the first of the six proposals submitted by the professional bodies. Further details on this scheme can be accessed below.

The impacts on the construction industry are evident, and a slowdown is clearly taking place. Loss of revenue, and a reduction in new projects coming on line are already being reported, and the situation is expected to decline further in the coming weeks. In other cases, periti who fall within the vulnerable groups as defined by Legal Notice 111 of 2020 will also experience a decline in revenue, and consequently difficulty with paying their employees and expenses.

Accordingly, those periti who have suffered a significant drop in revenue, and who are unable to meet the salary costs of their office, have an arguable case to make, even now, without having to wait for any particular scheme or measure to be announced, to qualify for certain assistance packages that have already been announced. This was made clear during the meeting with Minister Schembri, and any periti in such situations should therefore make their case to Malta Enterprise and apply for support.

We understand that where a reasonable case can be made, Malta Enterprise will give such cases due consideration.  Evidently, each case will be evaluated on its own merits and the relief granted will be a function of proportionality to the difficulties faced by the professional concerned. Various measures may be considered, including reduced working hours, however these would need to be assessed on a case by case basis with Malta Enterprise.

 

Those who apply for relief and assistance are urged to inform the Kamra tal-Periti that they have done so, in order that such cases may be followed up from our end.

 

Meanwhile, kindly note that we shall be communicating with you shortly regarding a Q&A session being planned to address any queries you may have on the above.

 

 

4. Safety on construction sites in view of COVID-19

 

Another major concern at this time is the safety of workers and professionals on construction sites in terms of potential exposure to the virus, as well as the safety of third parties. The recent increase in case numbers is surely not to be ignored. We are scheduled to meet the Authorities later this week, and will inform you accordingly on any measures to be implemented in this respect.

 

 

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you to keep in touch with us via email on info@kamratalperiti.org, the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook, and Facebook Messenger, and to participate in the regular surveys being carried out.

 

Meanwhile, we will continue focussing all of our attention on ensuring that we pull through the current crisis together.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 06/20 | COVID-19 – What is the Kamra doing? // Update 4

I would like to start off by thanking each and every one of you for your constant support and feedback. We understand that many of you are facing very challenging times, and that part of your frustrations are fuelled by the element of uncertainty as to what is to be expected in the near future.

On our part, we have been working incessantly to ensure that the interests of the profession and our clients, and the safety of all those who work on construction sites are safeguarded. Our efforts during the past few days have focussed primarily on three aspects, namely:

  1. Weathering the storm to save businesses and jobs
  2. Planning Commission meetings and processes
  3. Building regulations and construction sites

Below please find a detailed outline of progress achieved to date.

1. Weathering the storm to save businesses and jobs

The Kamra tal-Periti has been having practically daily meetings with the Chamber of Advocates, the Kunsill Notarili ta’ Malta, the Dental Association of Malta, and the Malta Institute of Accountants over the past two weeks. As representatives of these regulated professions we have come together to submit proposals for an economic recovery package to Government, which focuses on all sectors of the economy, including of course our sector as a whole.

The package is based on two main fronts. Firstly, it proposes a phased approach, targeting the immediate period up to July, following which it will focus on the recovery period up to April next year with incisive and tailor-made economic remodelling, and beyond then the measures proposed will be aimed at relaunching businesses to begin thriving again following what will undoubtedly be a downturn in the economy.

The second front is based on the principles of burden-sharing, wherein Government, the business community, employees and the banks come together to collectively take the country forward in a healthy and sustainable manner. In the immediate period, the focus must be on job retention – businesses have invested in their people, who they consider as part of the family and who are tuned in to the ethos of the company, and therefore the focus must be on ensuring that employees are retained on the payroll for as long as possible. Beyond that, it is imperative to ensure that we can weather the storm together, with a focus on the general well-being of all of society.

In order to achieve this, measures must be targeted along two streams, namely facilitating business operations through cost reductions, flexibility in working conditions, cash flow measures, and lending facilities, and on the other hand bolstering the liveability of employees through targeted measures to reduce their cost of living at this critical moment and to ensure that their needs are adequately catered for.

The Chambers and Associations mentioned above presented an initial proposal to Government last Friday, which was followed up with a detailed proposal backed up by market research last Monday. We are currently awaiting notice for a meeting wherein these proposals can be presented to Government in detail.

While at this point we cannot provide further detail, nor can we give any guarantees, we assure you that we are doing everything within our power to ensure that our representations are heeded. On this point, the Council thanks you for participating in the surveys that have been sent out, since these allow us to keep tabs on the situation and to reinforce our discussions with Government.

We hope to be able to update you on this matter in the coming days.

2. Planning Commission meetings and processes

As already outlined in Circular 05/2020, Planning Commission hearings were cancelled last week following recommendations by the Superintendent of Public Health to exercise social distancing and cancel non-essential meetings. The Authority, however, intends to proceed with Board and Commission hearings.

In view of this, Council submitted a protocol to be followed for the resumption of hearings, including the use of videoconferencing technology, which will ensure this can be done without exposing periti and their clients. We are confident that our proposals will be taken on board, and reiterate our commitment to ensure that the processes to be adopted will be implemented smoothly and efficiently, and that the health and safety of all involved is ensured. In addition to this, discussions are also ongoing regarding certain planning processes in view of the current situation.

We expect announcements to be made soon in this respect.

3. Building regulations and construction sites

On Wednesday afternoon, a meeting was held with the Building Industry Technical Committee set up by the Prime Minister. The public consultation document A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta prepared by the Kamra tal-Periti and endorsed by its Extraordinary General Meeting of 2019, and which was also endorsed by all the main stakeholders in the industry following a consultation process carried out by the Council, was presented to the Committee in detail. We understand that the Committee is meeting with other stakeholders and will be making its recommendations to the Prime Minister shortly.

The Council has also presented to Government its proposals with regard to construction sites in view of the current coronavirus crisis. The concerns raised are focussed on the processes that need to be in place in the eventual possibility of a lockdown, and also the safety precautions to be taken on construction sites and inspections of properties specifically for periti in the interim period. A meeting has been requested with the Building and Construction Agency, the Planning Authority and the Superintendent of Public Health. Again, we will update you accordingly once a position is agreed to.

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you to keep in touch with us via email on info@kamratalperiti.org, Facebook Messenger, and the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook.

Meanwhile, we will continue focussing all of our attention on ensuring that we pull through the current crisis together.

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

Video: Eric Bartolo

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CIR 05/20 | COVID-19 Planning Commission Hearings // Update 3

As you are aware, Planning Commission hearings were cancelled last week following recommendations by the Superintendent of Public Health to exercise social distancing and cancel non-essential meetings. However, over the weekend periti and applicants began receiving notifications that hearings were to take place this week.

The Council immediately sought clarifications from Government, particularly in view of the fact that LN 75 of 2020 prohibited the hearings from proceeding. Discussions were held with Minister Aaron Farrugia and with the Planning Authority about the reasons why such a decision was taken, given the risks to periti and their clients.

Council submitted a protocol to be followed for the resumption of hearings, including the use of videoconferencing technology, which will ensure this can be done without exposing periti and their clients. The Kamra’s proposals are being actively considered by Minister Farrugia and the Planning Authority. Meanwhile it is noted that the prohibition imposed by LN 75 of 2020 has now been lifted through the coming into force of LN 97 of 2020.

The Council is confident that its proposals will be taken on board, and reiterates its commitment to ensure that the processes to be adopted will be implemented smoothly and efficiently, and that the health and safety of all involved is ensured.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 04/20 | COVID-19 Precautionary Measures in view of potential site closures // Update 2

The COVID-19 situation in Malta is, as you are aware, progressing, with local transmissions now being recorded. While there is no official indication of a potential lockdown situation as at the time of writing, it is important that we prepare ourselves for this eventuality.

The Kamra tal-Periti will issue Directives as required and as the situation evolves.

 

STAGE 1: SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR PERITI

Reference is to be made to the Kamra’s Circular 03/2020 which proposes various measures to be taken by your office to practise social distancing, as recommended by the Authorities. The Kamra notes with satisfaction that many offices have already implemented these measures. Following a survey carried out across the profession, to which 105 offices submitted their replies by 1pm on the 17th March 2020, the following results were registered:

You are encouraged to continue putting these measures into effect, and to encourage your colleagues and other professionals to do the same.

 

STAGE 2: IDENTIFICATION OF OPEN SITES

It is recommended that you immediately carry out a preliminary risk assessment of open sites under your supervision, and that you classify them as follows:

  1. Sites which currently involve primarily Demolition and/or Site Clearance Works
  2. Sites which currently involve primarily Excavation Works
  3. Sites which currently involve primarily Construction Works
  4. Sites which currently involve primarily Works related to Finishes and Services

 

For each of the above Classifications, identify the risks that may arise in the hypothetical scenario of a Government-imposed instantaneous lockdown of the construction industry, as follows:

  1. Risk to structural stability of site and/or to adjacent parties*
  2. Risk of significant damage to site and/or to adjacent parties*
  3. Risk of minor damage to site and/or adjacent parties*
  4. No risk to site and/or adjacent parties*

* “adjacent parties” includes private third parties and their property, the general public, and/or public property

 

The periti who responded to the survey are responsible for 725 active sites. The type of works currently being undertaken are primarily as follows:

It is recommended that all efforts are focussed on those works which pose a risk to the site and/or to adjacent parties during this current Stage, in order to minimise such risks pending further notices from Government regarding a potential lockdown.

 

In all cases of ongoing works, it is recommended that you communicate with your Client,  their appointed Contractor/s and Project Supervisors (in terms of LN 88 of 2018), in order to assess the evolving situation and to identify the risks, if any, in terms of potential spread of the virus on the site itself. This should include confirmation in writing from all persons on site that they have not travelled in the past three weeks, and that they have not been in contact with persons who travelled in the past three weeks – in case of persons who do not meet these criteria, request that these are not allowed to access the site, and that they follow the measures imposed by Government regarding self-quarantine. In case of non-compliance, report to the Commissioner of Police on 2122 4001-9 or pulizija@gov.mt​

 

If works are being carried out in confined spaces, and these can be postponed, liaise with the Client and the contractor accordingly in the interest of public health and safety.

It is also recommended that, together with the Client, Contractor/s and Project Supervisor, you prioritise those works that may pose a threat to the site itself and/or to adjacent third parties, including works relating to water-tightness.

 

It is also recommended that, in agreement with the Client, you postpone the commencement date of any new works until after the pandemic is declared to be over.

 

STAGE 3: LOCKDOWN SITUATION

Although no indication has been given by Government of an immediate lockdown situation that would affect the industry, it is nevertheless important to be prepared for such eventuality.

 

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti has communicated with Government in this regard and is awaiting feedback. The Council will update you as soon as possible in this respect.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 03/20 | COVID-19 Precautionary Measures // Update 1

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti advises all periti and their staff to follow all instructions issued daily by the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate. These can be viewed online here.

 

Below please find additional precautionary measures that can be taken to limit the potential for spread of the virus, including instructions issued by the various Authorities and Departments with which we deal on a daily basis.

The Council will continue to keep you updated regularly through its Facebook page and through the Periti Discussion Board. Circulars will be issued as and when necessary. We will be doing our best to ensure that lines of communication with the profession remain open.

 

You are reminded that any specific queries may be addressed to us through info@kamratalperiti.org.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker

President

 

  1. Practise Social Distancing

 

Apart from the restrictions imposed by Government, it is highly recommended that periti employ measures of social distancing. This is a measure that helps to prevent a sharp peak of infections, known as flattening the epidemic curve, and helps avoid healthcare services being overwhelmed.

 

These measures may include:

  • Cancellation of non-essential meetings, or seeking alternative means of holding such meetings through digital means;
  • Asking clients and others not to visit your office unless absolutely necessary, and in such case to follow any measures put in place by your office;
  • Require that any members of staff who experience typical coronavirus symptoms (fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath, and fever) to stay at home until advised by a medical practitioner that they may return to work;
  • Observe the recommendations of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority regarding measures to be taken at places of work – see here;
  • Consider working remotely for the next week, and limiting your opening hours to the bare essential;
  • Communicate with your clients via email or other digital means in order to update them on all the platforms through which you may be contacted (email, social media, digital communication tools, etc).

 

 

  1. Observe the measures put in place by various Authorities and Departments

 

Various Authority and Departments with which we interact on a daily basis have put into place a number of measures. These include the Planning Authority, the Building and Construction Agency, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability. These have been collated into one document which you may easily download and distribute to your colleagues, clients, contractors and other consultants. The content of this document is correct as at 13th March 2020.

 

You are requested to be on the lookout for subsequent updates on the respective websites and social media pages of the respective Authorities and Departments.

 

With regard to Planning Commission, Planning Board and Environment and Planning Review Tribunal sittings, the Council is in contact with the relevant officials and discussions are under way regarding the possibility for suspension of all sittings – this will require the implementation of legislative measures to also suspend all applicable timeframes.

 

 

 

  1. Precautionary measures on construction sites

 

It is recommended that you undertake the following precautionary measures with respect to ongoing works on construction sites:

  • Contact the Project Supervisor (in terms of LN 88 of 2018) and request that a risk assessment is carried out to ensure that general protective measures relating to the limitation of spread of the coronavirus are in place;
  • Request that the Client, all contractors, and the Project Supervisor confirm in writing that none of their staff and/or representatives present on the site have travelled in the past three weeks, or have been in contact with persons who travelled in the past three weeks – in case of persons who do not meet these criteria, request that these are not allowed to access the site, and that they follow the measures imposed by Government;
  • If works are being carried out in confined spaces, and these can be postponed, liaise with the Client and the contractor accordingly in the interest of public health and safety.

 

  1. Preparing for additional measures

The situation is developing by the day. So far, all reported cases have been imported through travel, and no cases of local transmission have been detected.

The Kamra tal-Periti will continue to monitor the situation. It is nevertheless recommended that you prepare yourself for potential new and restrictive measures in the coming days. In view of this it is recommended that you:

  • Postpone the commencement date of any new works until after the pandemic is declared to be over;
  • Keep your workplace clean and hygienic, and ensure good ventilation;
  • Avoid travelling;
  • Develop a plan of what to do if one of your office colleagues or any one of the people on a construction site becomes ill;
  • Promote remote working and ensure that you have the necessary IT support;
  • Keep open lines of communication with your clients, appointed contractors and consultants on your projects in order to avoid unnecessary meetings and to ensure that all are remaining vigilant at this time;
  • Observe the recommendations of the OHSA on additional measures to be taken at the workplace as outlined here.

 

 

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CIR 02/20 | COVID-19 Precautionary Measures

In light of the circumstances and directives published by the health authorities regarding Covid-19, members are advised to act in a responsible manner and take the necessary precautions to mitigate spread.

Specifically, attention should be given to restrict meetings and particularly to avoid interactions with persons who have travelled or who have been in contact with those who have travelled over the last fortnight. You are encouraged to utilise alternative means of communication.

The Kamra tal-Periti shall be issuing further guidance as needed. Meanwhile, for further information please follow the Ministry of Health’s official website linked below.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker

President

 

CIR 16/19 | CTBs and Regularisation

Dear Colleagues,

In March 2019, the Kamra tal-Periti submitted a complaint to the Commissioner for Environment and Planning within the Office of the Ombudsman regarding PA Circular 4/12. Following is a summary of the situation to date, and the Kamra’s guidance to periti.

 

Background and Ombudsman’s decision

PA Circular 4/12 states that when an application for development permission is submitted on a site which is covered by a CTB concession, then the irregularity “needs to either be sanctioned or removed, prior to any processing of the application.  If the illegal development cannot be sanctioned, a regularisation application would need to have been submitted and approved prior to the planning application being confirmed as complete.

The Kamra tal-Periti requested the Ombudsman’s office to investigate this matter, outlining its opinion that holders of CTB concessions for minor irregularities were facing serious risks on their investment unless the Planning Authority changed its interpretation of the law. Banks that have taken such properties as security against mortgages are also at risk in case of default, as the value of such properties may be much lower than expected as a result.

In a decision delivered on the 7th May 2019, the Ombudsman’s Office concluded that the above quoted paragraph from the Authority’s Circular “is found to be unfair, irregular and against the principles of natural justice” and ordered the Planning Authority to “withdraw and cancel this part of the Circular to the effect that a new application can be submitted on a site covered by a CTB concession without the need for sanctioning, regularising or removing the illegal works covered by the same CTB concession, as long as no further illegal development has taken place on site.

 

Latest developments

Despite the passage of several months from such decision, the Circular has not been amended or withdrawn, leaving periti and their clients in a quandary as to how to proceed in such cases.  The Kamra tal-Periti sought clarification from the Ombudsman’s office and from the Planning Authority in the past weeks.

In response to such queries, the Ombudsman wrote to the Planning Authority in August, quoting a statement by the Authority in its response of the 21 May 2019 that “the Authority understands and agrees that applicants requesting development of a site covered by a CTB should not have their application stalled cause of illegalities indicated in the relative concession.

The Ombudsman noted that “As this statement contrasts drastically with the contents of the same Circular that is still in vigore  … and since the implementation of the same recommendation through a correcting circular is taking too long on such an important issue that affects the multitude, you are hereby urged to finalise this correcting circular whilst the Kamra tal-Periti is also being copied so that the Periti are directed in line with the Final Opinion recommendations.“

In a reply dated 4th September 2019, the Planning Authority stated that it “does not understand that further clarifications were meant to be issued further to its communication dated 21st may 2019, also because the requested clarification transpires from the Law itself through the application of the proviso to sub-regulation 14(1) of the Legal Notice 514 of 2010 read in conjunction with sub-regulation 1(3)(d) of Legal Notice 162 of 2016.

The Ombudsman responded on the 10th September 2019, stating that “Following the comments in your letter dated 4 September 2019 it appears that the Authority is not taking any action in line with my recommendations within a reasonable time and hence the provisions of sub-article 22(4) of the Ombudsman Act will apply.

Sub-article 22(4) of the Ombudsman Act states that “If within a reasonable time after the report is made no action is taken which seems to the Ombudsman to be adequate and appropriate, the Ombudsman, in his discretion, after considering the comments (if any) made by or on behalf of any department, organisation or local council affected, may send a copy of the report and recommendations to the Prime Minister, and may thereafter make such report to the House of Representatives on the matter as he thinks fit.

In response to an additional follow up email from the Kamra tal-Periti, the Ombudsman confirmed, on the 3rd October 2019, that “Following the final opinion the understanding was that this Office would not need to come to this, but this Office is committed to follow the whole procedure afforded by law in the circumstances, that is in order through the Minister concerned, the Prime Minister and publicly in front of the House of Representatives if need be.“

 

Guidance for periti

Although the matter has not yet been concluded, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti felt it would be opportune to issue this Circular, outlining the current state of affairs, in order to provide guidance to periti and their clients on the situation as it stands. Periti are invited to quote this Circular and the Ombudsman’s decisions in their proceedings with the Planning Authority and the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal where necessary.

 

Note

All Directives and Circulars are being sent to all periti who are on the Kamra’s database. If you meet colleagues who are not receiving such communications, kindly ask them to send an email to buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org so that the records can be updated.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

CIR 15/19 | New Forms for use prior to commencement of works or utilisation of planning permit

Dear Colleagues,

Following the coming into force of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Building Regulation Office had published a set of Forms to administer the requirements imposed by said Legal Notice.

Several meetings and discussions ensued regarding various changes to the Forms, including the Kamra’s proposal to completely separate the planning process from the construction process by amending the Commencement Notice that is required to be submitted to the Planning Authority to contain only that information which is relevant to the planning process, and the rest of the information relating to the construction process being amalgamated within the BRO Forms.

Following the establishment of the new Building and Construction Agency in August 2019, further discussions took place, and we can finally announce that the Forms are being amended today.

 

Main changes

The main changes to the Forms are outlined below.

1. Works that do not affect third parties

Whenever works do not affect third parties, and are therefore not subject to the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Form titled Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties is to be submitted. This replaces the current Commencement Notice required by the Planning Authority, and has been amended to require only the details of the Developer, the Licensed Mason (where applicable) and the Site Manager appointed in terms of Legal Notice 295 of 2007 (where applicable).

The Perit in Charge is to state reasons to justify situations when either a Licensed Mason or a Site Manager (or both) is/are not required for the works in hand.

This Form is to be used ONLY where the works do not affect third parties, and therefore in the following situations:

  • Works that do not qualify under Regulation 4 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, in which case the Form titled Declaration that Works Do Not fall Under the Scope of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 must also be submitted;
  • Works that fall under Regulation 26 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, in which case the Form titled Declaration in Terms of Regulation 26 must also be submitted;
  • Regularisation permits.

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least five days prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

2. Works that affect third parties and fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019

Whenever works fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 as defined in Regulation 4 thereof, the Form titled Commencement Notice / Site Management Responsibility Form is to be submitted. This is a combined Form for use by both the Planning Authority and the Building and Construction Agency, and requires the submission of details of all the persons required on the site, as per the relevant legislation.

The Perit in Charge is to state reasons to justify situations when either a Licensed Mason or a Site Manager (or both) is/are not required for the works in hand.

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least two weeks prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

3. Requests for exemptions under Regulation 25 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019

Regulation 25 empowers the Director of the Building Regulation Office to ˝issue appropriate orders according to the requirements and nature of the particular site“. Forms 25A, 25B and 25C were developed to standardise certain requests for exemptions from the requirements of the Legal Notice.

The following is to be noted:

  • Form 25A is being repealed;
  • Form 25B is to be used in all cases which fall under the definitions in Regulation 4, and where a request for exemption from the appointment of a Site Technical Officer is being made – this Form cannot be used if the works include excavation or demolition;
  • Form 25C is to be used only in the case of emergency works, including works permitted under the Dangerous Structures procedure.

Any other requests for exemptions from any provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 that are not coverd by Forms 25B and 25C are to be submitted in the form of a letter, signed by the Perit in Charge, accompanied by a declaration signed by the Developer stating:

I, …., ID No …, in my capacity as developer for the works approved under PA…, hereby declare that I have requested Perit … to submit a request for exemption from the requirements of Legal Notice 136 of 2019. I further declare that I am aware of the responsibilities pertaining to the undersigned in terms of the Legal Notice 136 of 2019, and that I have acknowledged the submission and content of the said request for exemption.

 

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least two weeks prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

4. General notes

  1. All the Forms except the one described in Section (1) above (Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties) are to be submitted through the Avoidance of Damage tab on eApps. Failure to follow this requirement will mean that the system will not notify the Building and Construction Agency. The Form titled Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties is to be submitted through the Commencement Notice tab on eApps, and will only be notified to the Planning Authority.
  2. Where the works fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Site Management Responsibility Summary Form must always be submitted.
  3. Whenever there is a change in the person assuming any of the roles detailed in the Forms, the Change of Responsibility Form is to be submitted.
  4. Whenever there is a change in any of the details of a person assuming any of the roles detailed in the Forms (eg. change in address, etc), the Site Management Responsibility Form – Update is to be submitted.
  5. It is to be noted that where the Licensed Mason is assuming the role of Mason as required by the Code of Police Laws AND the role of Contractor as defined in the Civil Code and in other relevant legislation, such person is sign the relevant sections assigned in the Forms to the Mason AND to the Contractor accordingly.

 

 

Transition period

The Kamra tal-Periti, the Building and Construction Agency, and the Planning Authority have reached agreement on the following:

  • Any Forms submitted prior to the 1st November 2019 will be considered as valid, unless they are not compliant with the relevant requirements;
  • Until the 30th November 2019, the Planning Authority and the Building and Construction Agency shall accept the submission of the old versions of the Forms, in an effort to avoid having to obtain all signatures if these have already been obtained in the past days or weeks – Periti are nevertheless advised that it is recommended to use the new Forms whenever possible during this transition period;
  • The old Forms will no longer be accessible on the Planning Authority website as from the 1st November 2019;
  • Form 25A shall be repealed as from the 1st November 2019, and no such requests shall be entertained thereafter.

 

Additional notes

Various amendments to the text of the Forms have been effected. It is not the scope of this Circular to go into the detail of such amendments, and the rationale behind them. Periti are advised to read the new content of the Forms carefully before signing off, and to advise their Clients and other persons required to sign the Forms to do the same.

The Kamra tal-Periti remains available to provide clarifications on specific queries by Periti, and encourages all its members to submit any feedback on the new Forms accordingly.

It is intended to continue discussions with the Building and Construction Agency regarding the templates for Condition Reports and Method Statements that are currently downloadable from the Planning Authority website. Any suggestions from Periti in this regard are most welcome.

Note

All Directives and Circulars are being sent to all periti who are on the Kamra’s database. If you meet colleagues who are not receiving such communications, kindly ask them to send an email to buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org so that the records can be updated.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President