Gov­ern­ment un­able to say why ten­ants fail to re­quest lower tar­iff rates from land­lord

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - ■ He­lena Grech

A spokesper­son for Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi said that ARMS ltd “is not privy to dis­cus­sions be­tween in­di­vid­ual ten­ants and land­lords... and is thus un­able to com­ment on any rea­son why ten­ants would not re­quest land­lords to con­sent to the change in tar­iff”.

As of Jan­uary, ten­ants will no longer re­quire their land­lord’s ap­proval in or­der to reg­is­ter for the lower res­i­den­tial rate for util­ity bills. Prior to this change in the law, ten­ants needed their land­lord’s ap­proval, which was of­ten re­jected. A house­hold is charged the higher, do­mes­tic rate, when it is the sec­ondary home or when the ac­count holder is a non-res­i­dent of Malta.

Prob­lems have sur­faced be­cause a por­tion of land­lords were not declar­ing their rental in­come to the tax au­thor­i­ties, and there­fore the sec­ond home that they are rent­ing out to ten­ants is viewed in the eyes of the au­thor­i­ties as the land­lords sec­ond home, and not the pri­mary home of a ten­ant. This dis­tinc­tion is im­por­tant be­cause a pri­mary home of a Mal­tese res­i­dent is charged the lower util­ity rate.

Pa­tri­cia Gra­ham, spokesper­son Up in Arms EU Ad­vi­sory Group, spoke with this newsroom to say that a num­ber of ten­ants have ex­pressed their con­cern with by­pass­ing their land­lord for fear of hav­ing their lives made very dif­fi­cult.

Evic­tion is not so sim­ple in Malta how­ever there are other av­enues for land­lords to take who wish to be rid of ten­ants.

Asked by The Malta In­de­pen­dent whether the gov­ern­ment has been made aware of such a sit­u­a­tion and whether any­thing could be done to curb abuse, it said that it was not privy to pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions be­tween in­di­vid­ual land­lords and ten­ants, in­clu­sive of ne­go­ti­a­tion of lease agree­ments. It also added that it was there­fore un­able to com­ment.

Ten­ants, through the Up in Arms EU Ad­vi­sory Group, have been left feel­ing dis­ap­pointed when they tried to by­pass their land­lord as of Jan­uary in or­der to switch to the 30-60 per cent cheaper rate, and were met with a re­cep­tion­ist who was not aware of the change in the law. A man­ager sub­se­quently came down to po­litely speak to ten­ants, telling them that the sys­tem is in its fi­nal stages and tech­ni­cal­i­ties are be­ing worked out. He as­sured them that it will be ready to go in just a few weeks time. The re­ply continues: “At present, ten­ants may ap­ply for res­i­den­tial rates for their pri­mary res­i­dence by hav­ing util­ity ac­counts in their names, or by ob­tain­ing the ac­count holder’s con­sent to the change in tar­iff.

“Fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment and share­holder in­struc­tions, in or­der to sim­plify pro­ce­dures, ARMS Ltd is cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­ni­cal changes nec­es­sary to al­low ten­ants to ap­ply for res­i­den­tial rates for elec­tric­ity and wa­ter con­sumed in their pri­mary res­i­dence, with­out re­quir­ing prior con­sent of the cur­rent ac­count holder.

“After the fi­nal test­ing phase is com­pleted, ARMS Ltd will be able to of­fer ten­ants a new ap­pli­ca­tion process. The above change in pro­ce­dure to sim­plify ac­cess to res­i­den­tial tar­iffs by EU cit­i­zens, fol­lows other mea­sures taken by Gov­ern­ment since 2013, to ad­dress in­stances of al­leged dis­crim­i­na­tion against EU cit­i­zens.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of these mea­sures also led the Com­mis­sion Ser­vices in Novem­ber 2016, to for­mally close the In­fringe­ment Pro­ce­dure that it had opened in Septem­ber 2012.”

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