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MDA ON NEW HOUSING AUTHORITY RENTAL SCHEME

The Malta Developers Association (MDA) refers to the new rental scheme launched by the Housing Authority through which property owners can rent their premises to the authority, which will then sublease it to tenants at subsidised rates.

The idea of using existing vacant building stock for rents to persons who qualify for social assistance in housing originated from one of the many suggestions made to Government before the Budget by the MDA, which had also suggested that a fixed rent for a predetermined period could be incentivised by a reduction in income tax from rents, as actually indicated in the announced scheme.

However, instead of allowing for a free rental market with tenants dealing directly with owners and then registering the lease when applying for subsidy, the scheme has become one where owners lease to the Housing Authority, which in turn sub-leases to the tenants.

This is in fact a major obstacle for the success of the scheme. Owners would normally seek to know who the prospective tenants are before they enter into a rental agreement and should not be obliged to accept anyone who obtains a sub-lease from the Housing Authority.

This would have avoided a lot of expensive bureaucracy and expenses on the part of the Authority, which will now be responsible for potential damages made to properties by its sub-lease holders.

With the announced scheme the property owners concerned will lose all control of their property and what happens to it, much as what used to happen in the past in the case of requisition orders.

It is a pity that such a good initiative has been smothered at its inception in this way rather than being allowed to flourish, something that would not have happened had the Housing Authority consulted interested stakeholders before finalising the scheme.

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