Sky-rocketing rental prices are once again the talk of town. On Sunday, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said that housing was one of the people’s major concerns and taking a dig at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat he said the “so-called Socialist government was forgetting all those who were not making ends meet.”
A few minutes earlier, addressing his party faithful in San Gwann Muscat himself weighed in on the matter and admitted that his government needs to find a balance “between landowners who want to rent their properties, and tenants who cannot afford to have their rent doubled in the blink of an eye.”
However, both leaders seem to be struggling to find a solution, or worse are reluctant to regularise the market which finance minister Edward Scicluna believes will adjust itself without the need of any intervention.
But a coalition of 17 organisations have a different idea and launched a document with a detailed list of proposals to regularise the rental market in Malta.
“Malta has almost no regulation in the rental market, and the law of the jungle currently applies. This is forcing many tenants to lead precarious lives, with only temporary roofs over their head and no place to call home. There is a pressing need for rules in the rental market in order to establish some fairness and to create more stability,” the organisations said.
While applauding government’s initiative to launch a White Paper about regulation in this sector, the NGOs have put forward a number of proposals based on rent regulation laws in other European countries.
The proposed model has no relation to pre-1995 rent legislation and “would not impose any tenant-landlord relationship, other than that established in contracts that have the agreement of both in the context of clear and fair rules.”
Here are the main proposals included in the document published last week;
- A tax regime that incentivises long-lets through lower tax rates for longer leases
- The creation of a state registry of properties on the rental market as well as the establishment of a public entity responsible for rent regulation
- The registration of properties that are up for rent, where the first price set in the first contract will be considered as the “initial price”.
- Landlords should only be allowed to increase rent-prices yearly during the duration of a contract by a percentage that does not exceed the cost-of-living-increase percentage.
- Once a contract expires, landlords can draw-up a new contract with the same, or a different, tenant. In either case, the price set in the new contract cannot be higher than 10% of the last monthly rent paid under the previous contract.
- The price set in any new contract cannot be more than 25% higher than it was five years earlier.
- The establishment of a Rent Price Index that lists prices in 1) different areas and 2) for different classes of property according to their size and quality.
- A system for the termination of contracts similar to that outlined in employment law.
- Provisions for clear rules on deposited money, payment of utility bills and upkeep of property.
- Protection for persons on existing lease agreements
- The regulation of real estate agents and a legal standing to a Tenants’ Union
- A tax on empty rentable property that disincentives rent on the black market and increases the amount of properties for rent.
The Proposal for Rent Regulation in Malta is proposed by: Moviment Graffitti, Alleanza Kontra il-Faqar, Forum Komunita’ Bormliża, Malta Tenant Support, Malta Humanists Association, The Millennium Chapel, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, aditus Foundation, Malta Gay Rights Movement, The Critical Institute, Spark 15, Mid-Dlam għad-Dawl, Women’s Rights Foundation, African Media Association Malta, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Integra Foundation and Third World Group Malta.