[WATCH] PN representatives fail to admit manifesto mistake on housing rent subsidies

Despite a manifesto pledge to reduce housing rent subsidies for pre-1995 tenants, Nationalist Party representatives insist no one will miss out on existing benefits

Peter Agius holds the PN manifesto at a press conference on housing
Peter Agius holds the PN manifesto at a press conference on housing

Peter Agius and Ivan Bartolo have insisted that tenants with pre-1995 rental contracts will continue benefitting from existing subsidies despite the Nationalist Party manifesto saying otherwise.

The pair refused to admit the proposal in the manifesto had a typo error that changed the sense of what the PN intended.

Addressing a press conference at PN headquarters on Thursday, they said all existing rent subsidy schemes covering pre-1995 rental housing will be maintained.

Pre-1995 rental contracts were liberalised last year but the law introduced safeguard mechanisms to cap rental payments and ensure government will subsidise the increases for as long as the tenants live there.

The proposal in the PN manifesto that suggests rent subsidies will be reduced to three years
The proposal in the PN manifesto that suggests rent subsidies will be reduced to three years

However, the PN manifesto states: “In the case of persons who qualify for the subsidy for rents prior to 1 June 1995, provided that applicants do not earn more than € 40,000, temporary aid is provided as established by law, tapered over three years, allowing tenants to adjust to the new rent.” 

The proposal suggests that rent subsidies will be reduced to three years rather than for the duration of a person’s lifetime.

When pressed by MaltaToday to clarify the manifesto proposal and whether this was written wrongly, Agius and Bartolo insisted this was “Labour spin”.

Agius added that the current regime will not change but the PN proposal was directed to a category of people who currently do not benefit from subsidies because of their earnings.

“Those already entitled to subsidies will remain entitled, except for person with disabilities who will be getting double the current amount. We will be providing equality and justice to those who currently do not qualify, as our aim is to improve the lives of citizens. No existing rights will be touched – this was always the proposal,” Agius said. 

He added the scope of the PN electoral manifesto is to empower all those who live in public social accommodation and help them to become owners of their home. 

He said the current government enacted reforms to the rent system, which however left gaps that “need to be addressed”.

PN candidate Ivan Bartolo
PN candidate Ivan Bartolo

Bartolo said NSO reports show that affordable accommodation has been a difficulty for many people in Malta. “Poverty is on the rise in the country, due to the rent getting more expensive”. 

Bartolo said that under a PN government the elderly who sell their property to move into a smaller residence do not pay taxes on the first €300,000 of the value of the property, as long as they move within six months from the date of the final contract. 

Another proposal is that through a public-private partnership, open to all developers who adhere to the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria, 500 residential units are added to the social housing accommodation per year.

The PN is also proposing a range of tax incentives on rental income for property owners.