Scandal-prone Gaffarena renting Qormi beds to immigrants for €260 a month

Marco and Josielle Gaffarena, the couple involved in Valletta’s Old Mint Street scandal that shook the Labour administration in 2015 and led to the sacking of the later-reformed Minister Michael Falzon, have found themselves a new business venture – renting out beds in Qormi to immigrants.

Eight beds in a cramped ground-floor maisonette in Qormi are being promoted on social media at €260 per bed, earning the couple a monthly rent of  €2,000 a month for offering squalid conditions.

The post was first raised by Arnold Cassola, and further investigation by The Shift found the Qormi maisonette is owned by the Gaffarenas, who, in 2015, were involved in the corrupt deal with the Lands Authority for part of a government-owned palazzo in Valletta.

The Qormi premises is typical of the free-for-all rental market, where property owners across the island have transformed dilapidated properties into self-catering hostels without any form of licence. Such premises target low-paid immigrants working in Malta.

Josielle Gaffarena describes the Qormi property as “ideal for a group of eight people”. She also posted pictures of the €260-a-bed property, showing a room with around four beds with old and well-worn mattresses crammed tightly next to each other.

 

If the Gaffarenas successfully rent out all the beds, they will be making over €2,000 a month – more than double the going market rate for rentals in the same location.

The renting of a property to eight different individuals is not allowed according to regulations that are supposedly policed by the Housing Authority,

However, in this case, the Gaffarenas are emulating several other landlords who are doing the same with their properties without any sort of government action being taken.

Marco and Josielle Gaffarena are involved in many different businesses primarily related to property development.

Marco Gaffarena, who at the time of the Old Mint Street scandal was a close friend of Minister Michael Falzon and had even gone abroad with him on hunting holidays, is a shareholder in Alfaclass Developers Ltd, Gaffarena Holdings Ltd, Zebbug Property Holding Company Ltd and in an illegal petrol station in Qormi that was allowed to re-open for business by the Labour administration soon after its 2013 success at the polls.

Last year, Marco and Josielle Gaffarena lost an appeal in a court case instituted by disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat to rescind the illegal contracts related to the Old Mint Street Palazzo in Valletta.

Through the deal, the government had paid €1.65 million for part ownership of the Valletta property that Gaffarena had bought for a fraction of the price just weeks earlier.

The scandal, unveiled by The Shift’s founder Caroline Muscat, led to an investigation that stopped the funds’ transfer and protected the families who own the property from exploitation.

                           
                           
                               
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Mark
Mark
2 days ago

Nies li ma jafux jistħu u li jittrattaw lin-nies ta’ annimali. Insomma artiklu bhal dan f’Malta jkun aktar riklam flok skandlu.

Se jkun hawn 4 litterati jghidulkom, Imma intom tax-shift kif ma thallux bniedem jaghmel lira tajba? Kif tidhlu fil-hajja privata tan-nies? Mela €10 daily gholja jew? U jtik 5t ijiem b’xejn ta.

Imma ghallinqas il-komodina tista’ tuzaha tavolina, banketta u tray għal-liqueurs. U xi hlew parigg is-saqajn tas-sodda wkoll.

Anthony Buttigieg
2 days ago

Anzi tar-ruh dil-koppja msieken biex jghinu lill haddiehor.

Stephen
Stephen
2 days ago

The Residential Leases Act states that the Housing Authority may introduce rules and regulations limiting the number of people residing in a property for health and safety reasons. To date, no such regulations have been issued, and therefore there is nothing to police.

Furthermore, there is a law which is still in force which states that if the ceiling is at least 2.75m high, the number of adults in a bedroom cannot exceed 1 for every 3.75sqm.

This is not a hostel. This is a shared property for residential purposes which requires no license from the MTA. A hostel is a hostel when it requires an MTA license which is for letting to tourists. But the fact that there is more than 1 bed in a bedroom does not turn a property into a hostel – you have to consider WHO is residing there: is it tourists, or residents? If it is residents, no license is required. In fact, there is no need for any license to rent a bed or a room to a resident: you only need to register the contract with the Housing Authority and adhere to the rules in the Residential Leases Act.

So technically there is absolutely nothing illegal going on here, as long as the contracts are registered and they have access to shared kitchen and bathroom amenities. And yes, it is perfectly possible to register multiple people on one property using the SHared Residential Space contract. In all major cities, people share apartments all the time.

Stephen
Stephen
2 days ago

Further to my previous comment, I would actually direct my rage to the government and employers who insist on importing poor people – but then people magically expect these people to be able to rent an apartment all to themselves on a minimum wage of less than €800. Even if a 2-bedroomed apartment is rented for €600, which is a fair price, there is no way a poor Indian can afford to rent one of the rooms for €300. So there would be 4 to 6 people sharing that apartment. Also, whilst the apartment in question seems to offer the bare minimim, do not assume that all flatshares are squalid. Some properties are high-end, and have well-off young people sharing them, and the amenities and conditions can be above anything most people have seen. So do not demonise shared property letting, instead demonise poverty. You will be surprised to know that for some people, those beds in Qormi are gold.

Greed
Greed
2 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

They are not doing it with the good of their heart they as always are doing it for money and they don’t care who they exploit in their quest and greed of it

Chris
Chris
1 day ago
Reply to  Greed

True true, but still with all that said this is their only option other than living out in the streets or some garage. One cannot expect the landlords to be charitable and rent out an apartment or marionette for peanuts.

Asmr
Asmr
2 days ago

Lost souls!

Charles
Charles
1 day ago

Do these people have an MTA licence? If no…are they being prosecuted? If yes…how did the MTA grant them a licence?

georgezammit127
georgezammit127
1 day ago

the missing in article was that gaffarena built the petrol station under the pn gov a friend of health minister joe cassar and the pn gov left the illegal building continue to be built

Jean
Jean
1 day ago

Mela tistaw iduru face book kollhu ghax issa trend li edin jikrew hekk il poropjeta

Mack
Mack
1 day ago

There’s mor like 20 beds in the block

carlos
carlos
20 hours ago
Reply to  Mack

Mafiamalta is the place for unscrupulous and corrupt greedy bastards.

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