A garage-residence in Malta. Photo from Net TV’s Sorsi Infurmati
Malta’s major real estate agents have dismissed warnings from the federation that used to represent them that over 2,000 people are now living in garages.
The Federation of Estate Agents, which is spearheaded by Simon Debono, has repeatedly warned that Malta’s high rent prices are forcing people to live in garages, at one point even claiming some 900 Maltese families are living in these conditions.
In a recent interview, he accused the government of manipulating its statistics to conceal the reality of the problem, which he pinned on uncontrolled immigration.
“The Federation has a list of over 2,000 people who are living in garages, and these are not only people from lower social classes but people who wear jackets and ties and go to work everyday,” he said.
Federation of Estate Agents Secretary General Simon Debono
Debono’s claim yesterday was quoted by PN secretary general Clyde Puli to back up his argument on the dangers of population growth.
However, the Estate Agents Section (EAS) within the Malta Developers’ Association has said these figures are completely unsubstantiated and urged Debono to stop presenting himself as a spokesperson for the real estate industry.
“The EAS wishes to strongly condemn the citing of figures which are unsubstantiated in fact,” they said. “Such citing of these figures only serves to ridicule what is supposed to be a serious debate on issues in the rental market currently being discussed post white paper.
“It also does nothing to help the few genuine cases, a far cry from 2,000 as recently stated, of people living in substandard housing. These cases need to be tackled by the state as they are social housing cases and can never really be expected to enter the private rental market.
The recent budget went a long way to heavily subsidise private rental for families and if necessary these should be increased in the future. The fact remains that nobody knows the real stock of property available privately for rent, least of all Simon Debono, as such an exercise will run into the millions of euro to perform.”
The EAS was set up earlier this year and represents some 70 estate agency offices, including the likes of Frank Salt, Remax Alliance, QuickLets & Zanzi Homes, Belair and Dhalia Real Estate Services. It is believed they broke away from the Federation of Estate Agents due to irreconcilable differences with Simon Debono.