MaltaToday Survey | High rents not a personal issue but a problem for the country

Political allegiance also made no difference to the perception people had of rent as a problem for the country

The vast majority of respondents said they felt rising rents were a national problem but not one that affected them personally
The vast majority of respondents said they felt rising rents were a national problem but not one that affected them personally

Skyrocketing rents are not an issue for the vast majority of people but concerns are highest among the young, a MaltaToday survey found.

Reflecting Malta’s high home ownership rate, 82.4% of people said rental price increases were not a personal problem. But the survey paints a mixed picture of an issue that has only recently come to the fore.

When asked whether they felt that rental increases are a problem for the country, 95.1% said yes.

And those who most consider it a personal issue are those aged between 18 and 35. Within this age group, 27.5% said rental price increases were a personal problem. This is possibly a reflection of the difficulties young people are facing to become home owners in a market where property prices have increased significantly.

The alternative to buying would be renting, which is coming at a much higher cost than it used to up to five years ago.

Among those aged 65 and over, 17.7% felt rental increases were a personal problem.

Political allegiance made no difference, with 83.1% of Labour Party voters in 2017, and 82.9% of Nationalist Party voters insisting rising rents were not a personal problem.

Political allegiance also made no difference to the perception people had of rent as a problem for the country with 93% of PL voters and 98.9% of PN voters agreeing that the issue was a national problem.

The strong belief that higher rents were a problem for the country cut across all age groups and genders.

However, people were less emphatic when asked whether they agreed that government should impose a limit on yearly rental increases by owners of private properties.

Controlling rent increases

Although an absolute majority of 61.3% agreed with limiting annual rent increases in the private sector, 26.9% were against and 11.8% were unsure.

The strongest support for such a measure was among women, the elderly and PN voters.

While 67.6% of women agreed with controls, 18.2% opposed them. Men were less supportive of rent control although an absolute majority of 56.2% still agreed with them.

Among the elderly, 66.7% agreed with limiting annual rent increases. The lowest support – albeit still a majority – for rent controls was among those aged 36 to 50. In this cohort, 52.4% agreed with imposing limits on rent increases but 37.1% disagreed.

PN voters are more likely to support such a measure (67.3%) than PL voters (56.8%). The number of people disagreeing with the proposal is equivalent among PL and PN voters. Uncertain PL voters (15.7%) are more than double PN voters.

The government has been very wary of interfering with the rental market and proposals put forward in the rent reform White Paper steer away from any notion of imposed controls.

A proposal floated by anti-poverty campaigners has been for the government to build apartments that it would rent out at subsidised prices to families that cannot cope with existing market prices. This is distinct from social housing, which targets the more vulnerable cases.

Such a proposal for affordable rental housing would find the support of 90.4%, according to the survey. Opposition ran at 5.9%.

Support was uniform across all age groups, men and women, and political allegiance.

Methodology

The survey was carried out between Thursday 28 March and Thursday 4 April. 597 respondents opted to complete the survey. Stratified random sampling based on gender, region and age was used to replicate the Maltese demographics. The estimated margin of error is 5% for a confidence interval of 95%.

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