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Confusion at Arms front desk as tenants of rented properties demand lower tariffs, as promised

A group of tenants from rented properties around Malta gathered at Arms Ltd today to avail themselves of lower utility rates promised by minister Konrad Mizzi six months ago – only to be met with confused front desk staff.

Electricity pricing regulations divide household electricity use into two separate bands: a ‘residential’ tariff for the primary home of Maltese citizens and a ‘domestic’ tariff, which is 30 per cent higher or more, reserved for second homes and non-residents. Water prices also vary.

Dr Mizzi announced last June that an agreement had been reached after years of complaints, allowing tenants to benefit from the cheaper rates without needing permission from their landlords, permission which is often abusively withheld.

But since then, no progress has been made on implementing the new regulations, and tenants are still stuck in the same situation.

A small group of people from the campaign Up in Arms showed up at the billing company offices today to ask to be switched to the residential rate, but were again told they needed a letter of authorisation from their landlord.

Front desk staff were not aware of any new regulations, and when a manager was called, he could say only that the system would be implemented “in the coming weeks” due to ongoing technical testing.

“Konrad Mizzi announced the new system in June and nothing has been done since then,” Patricia Graham from Up in Arms told the Times of Malta.

“In the meantime, the bills these people continue to receive on the domestic rate amounts to an extra year’s rent. We’ve even had some tenants who didn’t turn up today because their landlords told them that if they apply for the residential rate, they’re out – and since we have no rent regulations, landlords have the law in their hands.”

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