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Major Maltese Real Estate Agent Defends Rent Reform: Misinformation Is Keeping Landlords In The Dark

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With anonymous real estate agents coming forward to criticise the recently introduced rent reform, the head of a leading real estate agency has come out in staunch defence of the new regulations.

Speaking to Lovin Malta, Benjamin Tabone Grech, from Engel & Völkers, insisted that misinformation is keeping people in the dark over the massive benefits it provides.

“The new regulations have given much-needed security to both landlords and tenants, unlike what is being portrayed to certain groups in the sector,” he said.

The reform came into force at the start of 2020 following a lengthy consultation period. However, it has its critics with the Malta Developers’ Association claiming that the market was already showing “a significant dip” and that landowners are “increasingly reluctant” to rent out under the “restrictive regime”.

Meanwhile, anonymous real estate agents echoed a similar sentiment when speaking to The Times of Malta.

However, figures tell a different story. Since the start of 2020 there have been 3,600 registrations, that’s roughly 500 every single week.

Tabone Grech explained that landlords were mostly finding issues with tenants being able to opt-out of their one-year contract after six months of the lease.

However, he insisted that the register has given landlords the much-needed protection they deserve from cowboy tenants. He explained that the new law offers landlords and tenants the perfect platform to solve any disputes, with the Housing Authority setting up its own specialised board to handle these cases.

“Yes, there were contracts before the law. But a tenant could just walk up and leave, and landlords would wait years for the issue to be solved in the courts and get their fair share.”

Tabone Grech also rubbished any worries on the maximum 5% increase established in law, explaining that landlords could opt out of the rate if they make it clear to the tenants in the signed agreement.

Another point of contention seems to be an imposed rolled-on contract if landlords fail to give their tenants notice of eviction in a certain period. But, Tabone Grech said it was just.

“The tenant needs to have some sort of security. Imagine there is a family and their landlord tells them they’ve got to pack up and leave within a month, it’s against human rights to just render someone homeless,” he said.

The new regulations, which will be headed by the Housing Authority, essentially encourage landlords to register their rental properties with the authorities and imposes stricter terms on contracts and the conduct on both landlords and tenants.

Landlords will need to register each rental contract. It must include details like the rental agreement and the price per room.

No contracts can be terminated, and tenants will also need to be notified at least three months before their contracts expire. If not, the contract will roll-on. Tenants will also need to inform the landlords before they intend to leave.

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