'Tenants in Malta living in fear’, expats say

Eight tenants report having been verbally and physically threatened by different landlords.

The EU expats advisory group Up in Arms spent years lobbying against discriminatory tariffs. But now that the government has agreed to accept and process the new e-residence cards and the 'A' ID card in order to secure services for water and electricity, the EU nationals are facing another brick wall: landlords.

According to the group’s spokesperson Patricia Graham, tenants are being threatened with eviction if they ask their landlords about the domestic versus residential rates or refer to Form H.

Form H is required to update registered persons at a household. At the same time, procedure dictates that it is the responsibility of the account holder to pass on information concerning bills to the tenants.

“Over the last two weeks, we have dealt with eight individual cases where tenants have filed Police reports after they received threatening, abusive and bodily threats from landlords,” Graham said.

But the reports reportedly fell on deaf ears with the police informing the tenants that these were “civil” and not criminal cases.

Fear among these tenants is growing, are choosing to break their lease – forfeiting their deposits – in search of a peaceful existence.

“The physical threats include the landlord or representatives forcing their way into the property, manhandling tenants to remove phones whilst calling for help,” Graham said.

The list of threats, she added, goes on: verbal abuse, screaming, shouting abusively, threats against the tenants’ employers, threats against family or friends and impersonating police officers.

The tenants have also found the landlords have entered their homes while they were away to remove furniture, appliance or other objects after the tenants refused to pay the 45-60% higher rate being charged for the utilities.

“When will this stop? When will the government take a stand and ensure that this stops once and for all? ARMS Ltd rakes in cash for the domestic rate applied to tenants living in their primary residence, enabling the unscrupulous landlords who will not endorse Form H to continue evading tax on their rental income,” Graham said.