Family ask court to evict Labour Party from requisitioned premises

The family’s Birzebbugia properties were requisitioned from them in 1980 for government use but later transferred to the Labour Party

The Labour Party club in Birzebbuga
The Labour Party club in Birzebbuga

A family whose Birzebbugia properties were requisitioned from them in 1980 – for government use, but later transferred to the Labour Party - has called on the party to vacate the premises.

In a judicial letter filed by Franco Grima and the Ellul Sullivan family it was claimed that the property owners were being paid just over €1,000 in annual rent for a large seafront house in the centre of Pretty Bay, Birżebbuġa and the property next door, which has been linked to the club.

The family said that the large house, which was previously used as a hotel, had first been requisitioned by the Housing Authority to be used as a telephone exchange and a health clinic before being handed over to the Labour Party to be used as a club, together with another house which was also appropriated on Triq id-Duluri and which was annexed to the club.

The Housing Authority insisted at the time that the property remained requisitioned in its favour, the family said.

Malta does not have a shining track record on rent law and related human rights violations and has repeatedly been reprimanded for breaching the European Convention of Human Rights through its rent law.

Despite this, the law remains unchanged, notwithstanding a number of judgments in favour of property owners.

Last March, the European Court of Human Rights said in a judgment that Malta should “put an end to the systemic violation of the right of property”.

The court also encouraged the government to pursue measures aimed at remedying the situation - “speedily and with due diligence under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers”.

In the judicial letter the owners claimed their fundamental rights were being breached by the Attorney General on behalf of the Government of Malta and the Labour Party.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that the rent being received by the owners was far below the market value of the property in question and could not be further increased due to the limitations imposed at law.

The family warned that they would be filing a constitutional application in the coming weeks in which they will be demanding damages and eviction.

There was no balance expected between the needs of society and private owners in this case, they said.

Lawyers Edward Debono and Karl Micallef signed the judicial letter.

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