As rent prices soar in Malta, it’s becoming harder everyday for average Maltese people to find a place to live. But something else is making it even more difficult: some property owners are outrightly refusing to rent to Maltese tenants.
For years, it has been an open secret among Maltese letting agents that many property owners refuse to rent to third country nationals, such as Libyans. Now it looks like the tables have now turned. That same mentality is being used against the Maltese themselves.
A post by an angry Maltese woman on Are You Being Served? (RUBS) Facebook group sparked a heated discussion on whether this is even legal or not. But it also exposed a reality that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The woman posted a rental vacancy from Maltapark.com which specified that the studio penthouse in Paceville would only be rented to a female. When she called about the vacancy she was told “sorry, only foreigners accepted”.
The reactions to her post were as diverse as they were interesting. Some pointed out that it was illegal to discriminate in terms of gender as well as race. But others defended the practice.
“We prefer foreigners as well. I have every right to choose with whom to trust our property,” said one landlord openly in response to the woman’s post.
“It’s obvious. Because Maltese damage everything,” said another.
Others pointed out that the problem with renting property to Maltese people has a lot to do with court efficiency. It’s difficult to evict Maltese people who either stop paying rent or breach regulations.
“They claim they don’t have anywhere to stay and the landlord has to open a court case,” one landlord pointed out. Court cases can take ages to be decided, which means landlords may lose many months of income from being unable to carry out an eviction.
There’s also another aspect to this which exposes foreigners to abuse.
In fact, one commentator pointed out that landlords preferred foreigners because it was easier to rip them off: “I will keep the deposit, throw in a garnishee order and you can take me to court and it will take years so you will be screwed anyways. Not all maltese landlords of course but some are just this way, awful.”
But what does the law say?
Access to decent housing is a basic human right and in Malta it is against the law to discriminate against any person in the supply of goods and services available to the general public. This includes access to and supply of housing.
Persons found to be in infringement of such law may face a fine, or face imprisonment, or both. And victims also have a right to ask for compensation.
The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) is Malta’s National Equality Body which works on different types of discrimination, including race and ethnic origin.
For more information on the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality
(NCPE) and the Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and what your rights are, you
can contact NCPE on: [email protected] or 2590 3850.