3,600 rental contracts registered since new law came into force last month

The new rent law came into force in January 2020, making it obligatory for all rental contracts to be registered with the Housing Authority

Housing Minister Roderick Galdes
Housing Minister Roderick Galdes

Eight weeks into the new rent law regime and the Housing Authority is receiving some 500 registrations per week of rental contracts, Roderick Galdes said.

The Social Accommodation Minister said 3,600 rental contracts were registered with the Housing Authority since the new law came into force in January.

Galdes said the locality with the most registrations was St Paul’s Bay, which accounted for 17% of all registrations. Sliema accounted for 8% of registered contracts, followed by Msida at 7%. Marsaskala was next in line.

The minister said 23% of registrations were long-term contracts of two years or more.

“Just eight weeks after the new rent law started operating, the success is proof of how disciplined the Housing Authority was in implementing the system. It was the first government department to make use of blockchain technology,” Galdes said, adding that the system of registering rent contracts online was user-friendly and should take no more than 20 minutes.

Those who registered their properties online amounted to 2,800. Only 600 asked for the assistance of the authority and met with officials.

The new rent law lays out that annual rental increases be capped at 5% and sets a minimum residential lease term of one year. It also establishes a system of tax credits for landlords who give long-term contracts and make it obligatory for all rent contracts to be registered.

The law did not cap the entry-level rent, with the government insisting it did not want to interfere with the market.

“We found a total chaos in the housing sector. There was never a legal framework that regulated the rent sector. This shows that property owners want to conform and be guided and they do want a regulator that facilitates the property market,” Galdes said.

He noted that the Housing Authority will finally have access to real statistics and the government could be better able to issue policies in the sector based on the evidence collected.

“Owners want more stability and more income. The majority of owners claim that they want to be in line with the law and want to cooperate with the government. The authority doesn’t intend to be a watchdog — both tenants and owners see the authority as an entity assisting the process,” Galdes said.

85% of contracts registered are properties which would not be rented for more than €1,000 a month, the minister claimed. All types of properties were registered, including luxury apartments and villas.

The government will, in the coming months, be publishing the real prices of properties in the market and providing locations and other data.

Galdes said that properties conforming to the new rent law will ensure that both parties, tenants and owners alike, would enjoy the government subsidies in place and those announced in previous Budgets.

The new rent laws do not apply to pre-1995 leases.

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