Hundreds of rental properties across the country are being turned into dormitories befitting a third-world country, and the authorities are unable to intervene because there are no laws regulating the growing phenomenon.
In what is becoming a complete state of lawlessness, The Shift is being inundated with reports of small apartments and old and dilapidated houses being turned into large unregulated “shared spaces” primarily for low-earning immigrants working in the construction, catering and other services industries.
While the phenomenon has been allowed to grow unregulated over the last few years, fuelled by the government’s population growth and cheap labour-based economic policy, many once-quiet residential areas are seeing influxes of hundreds of people seeking a cheap place to sleep when they are not at work.
The Shift is informed that, in some instances, third-country nationals are even renting out beds for just a few hours a day to sleep in and that others take their spot when they are not there.
Aided by some top real estate agents, landlords are asking between €250 and €400 a month for a single bed – effectively doubling or tripling the income they would otherwise receive from renting the premises to, for example, a family.
The practice, which initially started in low-rent locations, has now spread across the island.
Residents of an affluent residential Sliema street just off Tower Road recounted how a landlord who owns four flats in a block put some 40 beds in the apartments to offer ‘shared spaces’ for €400 a month.
“They are operating their apartments like guesthouses without a licence and with total disrespect for us permanent residents,” the frustrated resident said.
Another from Hamrun complained of how a dilapidated house next door is being lived in by around 20 Asians, with noise levels disturbing the rest of the neighbourhood “at all times of day and night”.
Recently, The Shift reported how Marco and Josielle Gaffarena, the couple at the heart of the Old Mint Street scandal, were offering eight beds in a Qormi maisonette for €260 a month each.
Complaints fall on deaf ears as there are no laws to enforce
Residents complaining about the situation told The Shift that it is becoming intolerable, but the authorities are merely looking the other way. Apart from the lack of health and safety, hygiene and other necessary standards that should be applied when leasing a property, the practice is also creating traffic, waste and noise problems.
“I have complained to everyone from the Housing Authority to the Lands Authority and from the Police and even to the Office of the Prime Minister. No one is doing anything, and we are just being completely ignored,” another resident said.
“The authorities are telling us that there is no law regulating this.”
Asked by The Shift to explain how many people can be accommodated in a rental apartment and if there are any limits, a spokesman for the Housing Authority confirmed that there are no rules.
“There is no law on this, and you can rent out to as many people as you wish as long as you register the contract with the Authority,” the spokesman said.
Housing Minister Roderick Galdes did not reply to The Shift’s questions about why there were no rules regulating such operations.
But while the authorities are allowing total mayhem in the private residential rental market, there are rules in place for guest houses hosting tourists.
According to Malta Tourism Authority officials, guest houses need to follow specific rules, including those establishing the minimal personal space to be afforded to guests.
“You cannot just put as many beds as you want into a guesthouse. That would be illegal and would lead to the owners losing their licence,” an MTA official said.
Asked about the two weights and two measures being applied when it comes to regulating guest houses while private dormitories are operating in a state of lawlessness, the official told The Shift, “That is a question for the government and not for the MTA.”
MAFIAMALTA run by corrupt government – if premiere got 4.5 million euros for nothing, these greedy bastards are only doing a fraction of what the most corrupt pm malta ever had – had made. SHAME.
It’s incredible what our cheap ‘Labour’ government managed to achieve in less than 10 years !!!
It’s the economy, right
If there is no Law, these things are legal
Vote MLP- this is what you get.
Chapter 10 Code of Police Laws, Article 112: No room in any common tenenment house or in any apartment therein shall be used for habitation by a number of persons in excess of the following limitations, that is to say (a) where the room has at least the height prescribed in article 97(1)(d) (basically 2.75m), there must be a sirface of at least 3.75sqm for each person older than 7 years, and 2.75sqm for each peron 7 and under, (b) if less than 2.75m height, 4.75sqm and 3.75sqn respectively.
Therefore if in a house there are 3 bedrooms of 15sqm each, and provided ceiling is 2.75m high, total occupants can legally be 12.
You are welcome, The Shift.
And thats why things wont change. Always pointing fingers and blaming opposition from both sides. But big positive results and change we never seem to get from either. Greed is consuming this country and through it, actively devolving.
the law exists, firstly because if more people sleep than pay per bed, we are talking about a quasi-hostel, therefore a license is needed, secondly, when you ask for the license and they give the permits for the beds, these will be granted based on the size of the apartment.
Therefore the law exists but as usual it is not applied, since it is convenient for everyone to pay workers at 4 euros an hour, this explains why they are filling the island with non-EU citizens at low cost, while experienced people flee to other states with higher salaries double and whererenting an apartment with half the cost of Malta
Yes there are laws – SL 552.15 regulates Class 1 Dwellings ie either a family; or not more than six residents living together; or not more than 16 persons when covered by a license by the MTA and within UCA. Therefore it is the Planning Authority that is responsible for the enforcement!
Most importantly we are a Catholic country and most landlords jibilaw l-ostja every Sunday to impress
Vote labour. Get labour quality of life & don’t complain.
Of course the authorities are not going to take any action that would negatively impact developers. They wanted this situation, they’re not going to rein it in.
There is a rule that in short let apartments you cannot have more than 6 persons per bathroom. All one has to do is extend this rule to Long Lets. Simple.