The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Rent reform: Caritas welcomes White Paper, calls for subsidies for the vulnerable, Rent Index

Wednesday, 17 October 2018, 18:19 Last update: about 5 years ago

Caritas Malta has welcomed the White Paper on the rent reform but suggested subsidies in cases where the rent exceeds one-third of the tenant’s income and the creation of a Rent Index.  

In its initial reaction, Caritas Malta said the White Paper, which gives a detailed picture of economic trends and changes in the market, shows an increase in requests for rental properties. The factors behind the increase include a rise in separations, divorce and single parenthood, fewer people affording accommodation, an increase in foreign workers and increased demand from the tourism sector.

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Caritas said it has long been expressing concern about people in a band of society that do not have adequate income to cope with the rise in the cost of living and, less so with the increase in property rental prices.

This situation is worse for people who are socially emarginated, those who suffer from mental health conditions, the elderly and people trying to rid themselves of some dependency, it said.

This is also reflected in the increase in requests for social accommodation, which currently amounts to 3,200 people.

Caritas Malta said these people should be helped by regulating and regularising the rental market, through adequate financial assistance, decent social accommodation that can cater for current demand, and the supply of more affordable accommodation so that more people will be incentivised to become homeowners.

It welcomed the White Paper’s principles, which aim for stability, sustainability, and protection and guarantees for the tenants and the landlords through the registration of rental contracts, the declaration of deposits, incentives for longer-term contracts with established amounts and regulated access to water and electricity services.

Caritas Malta hoped that these principles would be implemented after a public consultation period.

The organisation noted, however, that rental prices should not amount to more than a third of a person’s income. In cases where the rent is higher, there should be financial assistance in the form of subsidies, it said.

There should also be continuous monitoring of the rental market, and the creation of a Rent Index, with the information being publicly accessible.

Caritas also called for an enforcement mechanism to ensure that the principles listed in the White Paper are implemented and abuse controlled. This would ensure that the market is not only free but also just with all sectors of society, especially the vulnerable and emarginated, it said. 

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