The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

10,000 contracts registered with the Housing Authority in 2020; Adjudicating Panel set up

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 13 May 2020, 13:08 Last update: about 16 days ago

Following the rent law reform, 10,000 lease agreements have been registered with the Housing Authority, Minister for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at a press conference on a new arbitration panel that will resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, when such disputes do not exceed €5,000 in value. 

"This adjudication panel is an efficient and accessible way to resolve minor disputes for both landlords and families in rental accommodation," the Minister explained.

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The adjudication panel is under the auspices of the Housing Authority as part of the implementation of the rent law reform, which came into effect on 1 January this year. The panel will be composed of professionals in the sector who will resolve minor disputes between landlords and families when such disputes do not exceed over €5,000 in value.

"The panel shall resolve disputes related to maintenance, security deposits, water and electricity bills," Galdes explained. "It will offer clarity and transparency in respect to both the rights and obligations of the landlord and tenants."

The panel was established after a period of consultation. It will relieve the courts of the

unnecessary burden of resolving minor disputes between the parties. Therefore, the courts will be in a better position to focus on bigger cases.

Galdes said the panel will also help develop the rental market to be a more professional and transparent one.

The ministry has conducted a study in conjunction with the Housing Authority to survey the situation in the private rental market during the COVID-19 pandemic. "This study was possible since we have introduced the mandatory registration of private residential lease agreements, and in fact in the first four months, 10,000 contracts were registered with the Housing Authority."

The study shows that trust in the rental market during the pandemic remains strong, with 80% of interviewed landlords declaring that they shall continue investing in the private rental market.

It also showed that the relationship between the two parties has been strengthened, with 75% of tenants stating that when they asked their landlords for reductions in rent or assistance during the first phase of the pandemic, their landlords provided the requested assistance. 74% of landlords, who were impacted by COVID-19 chose to reduce rent voluntarily.

 

New Chapter in the reform of the rental market

The CEO of the Housing Authority, Leonoid Mckay, said the establishment of the panel is a sign of a new chapter in the reform of the rental market in Malta.

"We promised to implement an efficient and user-friendly system of registrations and we delivered. Now, we have committed ourselves to putting into place a panel which shall oversee the dispute resolution process relating to minor cases involving persons who have duly registered their agreements, and such a process shall be an efficient one which should deliver a decision in a matter of days," explained Mckay.

Dr. Carlos Bugeja, the Chairperson of the Adjudication Panel, explained that "the scope of the Arbitration Panel is that of delivering justice through simple, cheap and efficient access to this service. There is also a clear commitment from the part of the Panel to ensure better standards of behaviour in the rental contractual relationships."

Those individuals who have a lease agreement registered with the Housing Authority may register their dispute on rentregistration.gov.mt.


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