During a press conference, on the 31st July the Malta Chamber gave its reactions on the proposed Bill ‘Residential Leases Act’. The Chamber expressed its disappointment at the fact that the recently published bill did not begin to solve the decades-long issues that plague the residential rental market.
Addressing the Press Conference, Chamber President David Xuereb said that the bill, as proposed, completely omitted pre-1995 leases and failed to tackle its main social and economic objective: that of safeguarding and protecting the right to adequate, affordable accommodation for all residents.
“To make matters worse it introduces unacceptable and confusing concepts, such as lacunae in provisions distinguishing between short-term and long-term residential lease contracts” Mr Xuereb said.
Perit Xuereb highlighted the troubling issue of specific exclusion of regulations relating to shared bedrooms. Such a form of accommodation is believed to play a central role in the spiralling rental costs in the residential rental market.
Xuereb emphasised the Chamber’s concern on other provisions which posed serious threats to the individual’s fundamental right to privacy and on the principles of certainty and security, as also defined by the Constitution. This was due to a provision which granted the Chairperson of the Housing Authority, or any authorised person, the absolute right to enter “any private premises” or “take photographs after entering”, without the need for any reasonable suspicions.
The Chamber reiterated its strong position that the country needed a holistic plan for the rental market.
“This piecemeal approach does not cater for the impact of spiralling rental rates on the property and labour markets. Nor does it provide protection from the resulting illegalities of low standard shared accommodation, consequently impacting the surrounding residential environment and Maltese community at large” Mr Xuereb said.
For the benefit of the lesser and lessee alike, the Malta Chamber advised that this law would be re-drafted, given a broader scope and refined in concept to really constitute a much-needed reform of the rental market. When matters are getting out of hand, cosmetics are not the right tools to address serious shortcomings.