Gzira has in recent years become a popular town for wealthy iGaming employees seeking to rent an apartment. Yet, behind this facade lies a disturbing reality – rent prices have become so expensive that some people are willing to give up electricity in return for a roof over their heads at an affordable price.
Our suspicion at Lovin Malta was raised after crude signs advertising “candle lights rooms” started popping up across Gzira last month, including on the main Rue d’Argens street. We agreed with a third party to call up the landlord on the mobile number he had left on the sign and pay a visit to the house.
The landlord, a Maltese man, ended up pulling out of the pre-arranged meeting but our third party called him up for details of the rent and passed to us a recording of their conversation, which we are publishing with the voices edited over.
The deal is crystal clear – the landlord is renting out rooms with water but no electricity in an old Gzira house to three people for €290 a month each – which suggests the rent of even these rooms has increased.
When the third party asks him whether the house has internet connection, the landlord answers: “No, no, no, this area costs around €800 [per month] ta, not €290….We live here, don’t worry. It’s OK, because everyone has internet outside, everyone charges their phones outside, and people spend more time working than they do inside the house.”
The landlord also confirms point-blank he doesn’t charge deposits and refuses to enter into rental contracts with his tenants.
LovinMalta revealed earlier this month the average rent of a single bedroom flat in Malta has, for the first time ever, surged above the current minimum wage of €735.63.
Landlord: It’s not an apartment, it’s rooms. It’s an old house and I don’t charge deposit.
Tenant: Perfect, perfect. So basically I was living abroad. Im here in Malta as a refugee since 2011, I’ve been living out and now I’m working here.
Landlord: I don’t do contracts, OK?
Tenant: No contracts?
Landlord: No, I’m telling you this from now. I don’t do contracts.
Tenant: Ok, Ok. Alright, so the old house…will there be any people living with me?
Landlord: Yes, yes, yes. I have three people. We are three people here.
Tenant: Ok, perfect. And how much is it per month?
Tenant: €290…including the water and electricity or excluded?
Landlord: Yea…water, water. If you want to.. (inaudible)
Tenant: Water and electricity?
Landlord: No, electricity no.
Tenant: So…there’s no internet?
Landlord: No, no, no, no. This area is about €800 ta, not €290.
Tenant: Yeah. OK…so, €290.
Landlord: And I don’t charge deposit.
Tenant: OK, no deposit which is good. No contract and no water….I mean, no electricity.
Landlord: No, at the moment, no. We live here, no worries *laughs*. It’s OK, because everyone has internet outside, everyone charges their phones outside, and people more working than inside.
Tenant: I see, I see. So the people who live there are just there to sleep?
Landlord: I can’t hear properly, man. Your phone’s very bad.
Tenant: Sorry. So I said that the people who live there just go there for…to sleep.
Landlord: Yes, of course. People have a shower and eat and cook and everything. It’s normal.
Tenant: Alright then, you’ll hear from me very soon.
Landlord: Ok, Ok.
Tenant: Thank you