Housing in Malta: Pay the extra rent or get out!

17 civil society organisations backed a proposal for rent regulation presented on the 24th of February

The case of Landlords who raise the rent overnight is becoming the rule, rather than the exception in the jungle of the housing rental market in Malta. This is encouraged by the fact that there are no controls or even a coherent government policy in place to put any ceiling on the rent rise. The problem is typical of the entire real estate industry where the law of the jungle reigns supreme, benefiting the few to the detriment of the many.

The government is working an a white paper to try to tackle the issue, but the civil society has brought its own grist to the mill, organizing a press conference on Saturday 24th February to present a “ Proposal for Rent Regulation in Malta.”

Backed by 17 civil society organisations, the document identifies the problems faced by renters, be it Maltese or foreigners, whose rents are raised overnight by unscrupulous landlords.

The proposals give example of “dissuasive measures and sanctions to deter the landlords from renting without a valid contract.
Referring specifically to the price increases which are the heart of the problem, the document is based upon some other European models such as Belgium’s and the Austria, where landlords can annually increase the rent price, but the percentage of this increase cannot exceed the-cost-of-living-increase-percentage established by the competent authorities.

Concern and anger are the common feelings of many renters who find themselves forced to look for other accommodation on a very short notice.
– Nowadays even the locals are having a hard time of it, in the recent past it was given that they would buy a  property but increasingly in spite of government assistance they are finding themselves increasingly priced out of the market, both in buying and renting especially if they are in low paying jobs.
– Silvie, a French woman had to look for another place when from 1500euros, her rent went up to 2300 in one month!
– Salif, from Ivory Coast, had to quickly find an other place when he and his two room mates were notified in January that their flat in Buggibba will cost them 1400 euros a month, against the 900 euros that they were paying so far.

Some took to Facebook to express their anger:

Asked whether the document will specify, list and propose special measures for those minorities that suffer the most from rent rises – specially Africans who face discrimination more than any other socio economic group- Andre Callus, from “Moviment Graffitti” says that the law is clear about the fact all the socio groups are equal and must access all the services available for their well-being. It clearly states that no one can be discriminated on his religion, sexual orientation, gender or race.

However, Mr. Callus recognized that the reality on the field is different, but the enforcement of the law can be enhanced to address any abuse. It’s is its duty to do so.

The full document can be found here.

Regine Psaila

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