Rent subsidy schemes being revised
Reform information booklet launched
The Housing Authority is currently revising its rent subsidy schemes in line with the rent reform, Social Policy Minister John Dalli said yesterday.
He did not give more details, but stressed that only people who really needed the authority's help should be eligible to these schemes.
Mr Dalli was speaking during a news conference as the government launched information booklets to explain the long-awaited rent reform that comes into effect on January 1 and applies to residential and commercial properties leased before 1995.
In a nutshell, the law - that comes after a year of consultation - establishes a minimum rent and gradually phases out the perpetual inheritance of rent that landlords had fallen victim to pre-1995.
"There's no doubt it was an awaited and necessary reform aimed at stopping social injustice.
"I feel we've managed to be just with landlords, who could not enjoy their property, and given tenants enough time to adjust," Mr Dalli said.
He added that he was satisfied with the "sincere" consultation process and thanked the opposition for its contribution.
The booklets, which are available in English and Maltese, sum up the law quite clearly, except for the occasional use of Latin and legal jargon few may understand.
According to the reform, the right to continue the lease after the death of a tenant (which by definition includes the spouse) will now be a one-time right for a tenant's child who lived there for four to five years before June 1, 2008, and continued to live there until the tenant's death.
In cases where there is more than one child, they get to share the rights and legal obligations of living in the rented home.
With the reform, the lease can also go to a sibling or siblings aged over 45, under the same conditions.
As from January 1, the minimum rent of a residence will be of €185 a year, that will increase every three years according to the property inflation index.
No price will be imposed if there is an agreement in writing between the landlord and tenant.
As from next year, rental agreements will only be valid in writing.
The reform also applied to the government, as a landlord or tenant.
However, the lease of buildings used for civic purposes, such as political party clubs, will be regulated by specific legal notices.
As for commercial property, rent will increase by a fixed rate of 15 per cent.
This will increase each year up to December 2013 unless there is a different written agreement.
Lease contracts are to be for a specific period or will be terminated within 20 years.
This decision was not well received by the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises, GRTU, which declared its intention to file a judicial protest since it felt the law went against the basic rights of business owners.