Housing ministry rental reform to introduce limits already in place

Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.

An upcoming rent law reform announced by the government claims it will include a cap on the number of tenants in shared accommodation following media reports of overcrowded apartments with sub-par living standards.

The ‘reform’ will limit a maximum of six persons to a single dwelling, raising questions on its enforcement given a six-person limit is already in place in Planning Authority legislation.

Announced by Housing Minister Roderick Galdes earlier this week, the changes include an IT system which will “automatically” refuse the registration rental contracts on properties with more than six registered tenants, automating the process.

Under the Use Classes Order, part of the legislation setting up the Planning Authority, shared residential dwellings are already limited to six tenants.

Galdes’ reform will simply adopt the existing limit and allow the Authority to refuse applications.

The new system will reportedly allow the Planning Authority, Identità (formerly Identity Malta) and the Housing Authority to share information on landlords and tenants. The government claims that agencies can then refuse visa applications or rental contracts on overcrowded properties.

Galdes claimed amendments to the rent law “in the coming weeks” will introduce caps on the number of tenants, inspections on rented accommodation and allow the Authority to refuse to register an owner found to have abused past tenants. He declined to divulge further information.

Yet the government has failed to enforce existing legislation that already implements caps on the number of tenants, nor has it explained how it would be implementing further enforcement.

This summer, media reports of a single Sliema apartment being rented out to 40 low-wage workers brought the issue to the fore. The case followed a string of similar instances across Malta.

The promised ‘reform’ forms part of a series of knee-jerk initiatives ordered by Prime Minister Robert Abela, aimed at curbing Malta’s rapidly growing population.

The changes, which include Galdes’ cap on the number of tenants, the introduction of a skills card for tourism industry workers and new regulations for temping agencies, are primarily aimed at raising barriers to entry for non-EU workers and third-country nationals.

In comments to The Shift on behalf of the Malta Development Association Landlords’ Section, MDA President Michael Stivala welcomed the changes.

He claimed the new system will allow for “automatic enforcement,” given government authorities “do not have the resources to knock on doors and carry out in-person enforcement.”

Nevertheless, Stivala called for an amendment to the existing legislation stipulating a six-person cap, calling for it to allow more tenants in larger dwellings. Developers are one of the main employers of non-EU workers, and the industry’s exploitation of ‘cheap labour’ has been well documented.

While he admitted Galdes’ upcoming changes would “create pressure on the [housing] supply, Stivala waived concerns that the limits would price out low-income tenants. Yet-to-be-constructed dwellings “in the pipeline” will account for such a demand, he said, ignoring the vast number of properties that already exist in a market that is already oversupplied resulting in unoccupied dwellings.

Stivala was widely criticised earlier this week after he claimed Malta was more beautiful than it was 20 years ago. His claim was made on the Jon Mallia podcast in response to questions about overdevelopment and the housing market.

In a discussion on Malta’s housing sector last month, Housing Authority CEO Matthew Zerafa claimed government agencies were forced to issue “reactive” legislation and policy. He claimed a “severe lack of data” in the sector prevented the introduction of forward-looking legislation.

Questions sent to Galdes asking for more details on the promised ‘reform’ remain unanswered at the time of publication.

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19 days ago

This minister is paid to provide AFFORDABLE Housing to Maltese. He absconded and did nothing of the sort, but is still being paid.

Francis Said
Francis Said
19 days ago

May I also add that garages should never be used for accommodation.
Or for that matter horse stables either.

Last edited 19 days ago by Francis Said
16 days ago

Accoding to that six-person rule (in the sanitation law), you can cram 6 people into a 45sqm studio apartment but you cannot place 7 in Verdala Palace. Ridiculous.

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