6 MARCH 2002

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Chamber calls for rent law review

The Chamber of Commerce yesterday reiterated its long-held stance that Malta’s current rent laws are the cause of a "huge social injustice", adding that the situation requires political consensus and an enhancement to the law that would rekindle landlords’ trust in the pertinent legislation.

In the latest edition of the Commercial Carrier, the Chamber comments, "If the landlord is placed in a relatively commercially favourable position and is confident that government will not subsequently, through retroactive legislation, renege, then the landlord will invest and supply property in the renting market and will not leave it unutilised."

The Chamber contended that the way forward is through persuasion and not through imposition, explaining that a solution to Malta’s housing dilemma is at once sensitive and serious and that a remedial legislative package combining the interests of both the landlords and the tenants is long overdue.

Such a solution, the Chamber explains, should achieve this delicate balance through the formation of trust and a series of financial benefits and subsidies. However, the Chamber is adamant that any solution must avoid the application of impositions, as such a practice would continue to hamper any hope of restoring confidence to the market players.

The Chamber restated its suggestion that a liaison be set up between the government and the Planning Authority with a view towards exploring ways and means by which the former could rent vacant dwellings from the private sector and, in turn, rent them back out to persons and families in need of social housing. Such an arrangement could, according to the Chamber, even be stipulated for a definite period of time, after which the tenant could seek a permanent solution of his own choice and liking.

The Chamber also proposed for the government to assume a co-operating stance with the private landlord so as to facilitate the latter’s supply of dwellings on the local renting market. The Chamber explains that this could be achieved by the redirecting of public funds, which would otherwise be channelled into the provision of housing estates. These funds could be used to subsidise (temporarily or otherwise) the payment of rents or the provision of housing by the private sector. By so doing, free space would not be developed and would remain accessible to the general public, while the government would be relieved of bearing any capital outlay.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt