The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

Government conscious of strain economic development put on rental market – Chris Agius

Saturday, 8 September 2018, 11:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government is conscious of the strain that recent economic development has put on the rental market and in turn on people in Malta, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market Chris Agius told The Malta Independent on Wednesday.

In recent days, The Malta Independent has received reports of people being seen sleeping in public gardens.  With these reports in mind, this newsroom questioned the government over such occurrences, asking Agius as the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the property market how the matter was being handled.

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 Agius said that the government was conscious of this problem, and of the strain that recent widespread development has put on the rental market on the island.  He said however that the government was ready to face this new challenge.

Agius explained that this new challenge is one that Maltese and foreigners alike are facing, and indeed that most of the reports received indicate that those having to sleep outside are foreign nationals.  The economic development in this country has brought people from the four corners of the globe to Malta, and therefore it must be admitted that there are new difficulties for the government to face in this regard, Agius noted.

However Agius commented that the government would do all it could to beat these difficulties.  He pointed out that a white paper on the rental market had already been issued whilst a new project for the building of apartments to be used as social housing was also in the offing.

The white paper in question was announced in October last year, and aims to address rental price hikes whilst making sure not to impose any controls over rent.  The white paper will also be looking at measures to protect the rights of both tenants and landlords.  Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes had said on television programme Dissett at the end of last January that the white paper was at an advanced stage; however the white paper remains unpublished thus far.

 In terms of social housing, the government had announced the building of 630 housing units over the course of three years in October 2017, whilst Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the last Labour Day mass meeting on 1 May announced that a further 500 units of social housing were to be built as well.  These units will be spread across various localities on the island.

The rental market itself has come under scrutiny over the past months, with many warning of the consequences that are coming about due to the inflated rental market.  Indeed just last August, the Federation of Estate Agents warned that some Maltese were coming off worse for wear due to this inflation, and were unable to afford a roof over their heads.  This compounds several reports of large amounts of people sharing flats or apartments between themselves, and of people residing in garages as that is all they could afford.  Reference must also be made to the recent case where 120 foreigners were found paying rent to live in a crudely converted stable complex in Qormi as there were no other affordable alternatives that they could find.

The reports of people resorting to sleeping under shelters in public gardens recently received by this newsroom only add a further dimension to what is being termed as a rental crisis that is affecting large portions of the population in Malta, both native and foreign.

 

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