16 February 2005

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No indication of rent law changes
By Julian Manduca

Alternattiva Demokratika’s campaign to reform Malta’s rent laws has not had any concrete affects so far, but government has said it is considering ways of getting more properties on the market and effecting changes to pre-1995 rents to achieve a more equitable deal for property owners and tenants, although it would not be led to say when that might happen.
It has been indicated that one of the reasons that Malta’s GDP exceeded the EU average by more than 75 per cent was because of the value of property and the value of property deals that are made on these islands. Given the lack of a rental market and more than a sneaking feeling that property prices are inflated, one way of bringing prices down could be changing Malta’s rent laws or putting more government owned vacant property on the market.
Such changes would not affect Malta’s GDP figures of the past, but could mean keeping Malta within Objective 1 targets for the future without any negative impact on our quality of life.
When The Malta Financial and Business Times asked Parliamentary Secretary Tonio Fenech whether the government was indeed considering reform of the rent laws, a spokesperson for the ministry replied saying: “statistics indicate that there are thousands of vacant property that are not being offered on lease/rent, even though there are separate government schemes that offer subsidies on rent in specific circumstances.
“The process of reform needs to continue in order to redress unfair situations for owners of property that were rented prior to 1995, but this must be done in a manner that takes into consideration all social and economic impacts.”
The ministry spokesperson told this newspaper that “Government is already putting property on the market through the housing authority and is presently exploring the possibility of Public Private Partnership projects in the housing area,” and stressed that “our rent laws were reformed in 1995 but made applicable to all new rents entered into since that date.” Now the government is actively considering changing the rent laws, although when asked when this might happen, the ministry refrained from answering.

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