The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Housing Authority confiscated 392 keys to social housing after investigations of alleged abuse

Semira Abbas Shalan Monday, 20 June 2022, 16:43 Last update: about 5 days ago

The Housing Authority has confiscated a total of 392 keys to social housing after investigations of alleged abuse on cases between 2017 till the end of 2021.

Minister for Social and Affordable Accommodation Roderick Galdes addressed a press conference on Monday on the enforcement done by the housing authority to ensure abuses by tenants residing in social housing is not tolerated.

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Galdes mentioned the anti-housing fraud freephone which was launched in 2017 as part of a reform on social housing. He appealed for the public to report any cases of abuse on social housing to the authorities.

He said that in 2021 alone, 80 keys were confiscated after investigations of alleged abuse. Galdes emphasized on the importance of land in Malta, as because of its scarcity, it is better to utilize properly social housing units rather than build more.

“The government is setting an example and putting out the message that it will not tolerate the squandering and abuse of public funds and vulnerable people,” Galdes said, explaining that there are people in need of social housing, and those who have used it for ulterior motives.

Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority Leonid McKay said that the housing authority is investing in more stock of social housing to address the current waiting list.

He said that as important as it is to invest in more stock, it is just as important to ensure that the existing stock is not being abused of.

McKay mentioned several abuses the authority has come across, such as social housing units being occupied by squatters.

Another type of abuse are people who have left the social housing unit uninhabited and have not returned the key. Deals of property units without the proper authorization of the authority was also one of the abuses.

McKay said that it is not permissible to use social housing units for commercial purposes, or to rent out to other persons. Unpaid rent and illegal structures in the units are not tolerated, he said. He also pointed out that the proper maintenance of the unit is also taken into consideration as there have been abuses where damage was done to the property.

McKay said that the government utilizes a database to make sure that the person who is supposedly living in the social housing unit is truly living there, however he appealed to people to inform the authorities should they see abuse.

Galdes was asked if there has been an increase in demand for social housing due to inflation costs, which could see a number of people facing poverty. Galdes said that he is not aware of an increase in demand.

“Last that I am aware of is that the waiting list is that of 1,300 and we are trying to look at the costs of materials which may affect the building of more units,” Galdes said.

He said that the government will do its research to initiate and set up new schemes for those in need of social housing.

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