Making Malta Home! NGO Response to the Launch of the Specific Residence Authorisation policy

We are happy to welcome the Specific Residence Authorisation policy, launched today by the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Reforms, Citizenship and Simplification of Administrative Processes. The policy will ensure the security, stability and dignity for those migrants who, throughout the years, have invested their energies and dreams into making Malta their home.

As announced today, the new policy will be accessible by current holders of the Temporary Humanitarian Protection N status. It will also be accessible by persons who cannot be returned to their countries of origin and who, during their time in Malta, have demonstrated integration efforts.

The SRA policy will therefore offer eligible persons the possibility to make the significant shift from a temporary – and therefore insecure – situation to one that embraces the principles of transparency and predictability. Importantly, the SRA policy will also contribute towards combating migrant poverty and the anxiety that inevitably ensues from living in an eternal limbo.

Essentially, we appreciate that the SRA policy is a clear acknowledgement by the relevant authorities of the personal, social, financial and other contributions made by so many migrants in Malta.

In doing so, Malta is taking a bold step towards fostering a truly inclusive society.

We are looking forward to the implementation of the new policy, and offer our support to ensure its smooth operation.

Finally, we thank the Ministry for the consultation process that permitted the ‘This is Home’ campaign to share its views in a frank and open manner. We reiterate our support of this form of engagement, and look forward to other similar interactions with the Ministry on matters of mutual concern.


‘This is Home’ campaign is composed of:

aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, The Critical Institute, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Gender Liberation, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Maltese-Serbian Community, MGRM, Migrant Women Association in Malta, Moroccan Community in Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, the People for Change Foundation, the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SKOP, Solidarity with Migrants Group, SOS Malta, Spark 15, Sudanese Community, Third Country National Support Network, Women’s Rights Foundation.

 


Press Conference ‘White Paper on Rent Regulation: A Positive Step Forward’

On 20 October an NGO coalition published its reaction to Government’s proposals to reform Malta’s private rent sector. Led by Moviment Graffitti, the coalition followed up recommendations it present earlier this year. aditus foundation is part of this coalition.

We believe in the need to reiterate that access to decent housing is a fundamental human right.

As such, it requires State intervention to respect, protect and fulfil it.

If you’re not clear what this right actually means or implies, you can check out this useful Fact Sheet.

A key recommendation made is:

“Although the White Paper focuses on a framework regulating private rent contracts, it also contains a number of interesting proposals with regards to the supply of units for rent. We agree with the White Paper’s notion that the housing supply should not depend entirely on the private sector.

Government and the third sector have an important role in supplying affordable housing. Besides social housing, the state and non-profit setups should build units to be leased at affordable prices whilst still generating rental revenue. This would increase the housing stock, increase state income and increase affordability.

We see no benefits from a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) setup for such projects.”


The NGO coalition is composed of:

Moviment Graffitti, Alleanza Kontra il-Faqar, Malta Tenant Support, Women’s Rights Foundation, Forum Komunita’ Bormliża, Malta Humanists Association, The Millennium Chapel, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, aditus Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), Malta Gay Rights Movement, The Critical Institute, Spark 15, Mid-Dlam għad-Dawl, Kummissjoni Ġustizzja u Paċi, SOS Malta, African Media Association Malta, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Integra Foundation u Third World Group Malta



We endorse the position paper on sexual and reproductive health and rights

aditus foundation welcomes the position paper Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights published by the Women’s Rights Foundation earlier this year.

The position paper adopts a rights-based approach to a topic that for too long has remained a national taboo, yet which continues to affect thousands of women, and men, in Malta.

Sexual and reproductive rights are fundamental human rights and, as such, merit to be respected, protected and fulfilled. The paper’s recommendations urge Malta to reflect on the status quo, with a viewing to engaging in an effective and inclusive reform process.

With human rights at the core of our activities, we fully endorse and support the recommendations made by the Women’s Rights Foundation, and look forward to participating in the forthcoming national discussion.


Rent Regulation for a Fairer Society

Press Conference 24 February 2018

A coalition of seventeen organisations working in different sectors, including aditus foundation, are today launching a document with a Proposal for Rent Regulation in Malta. Malta has almost no regulation in the rental market, and the law of the jungle currently applies. This is forcing many tenants to lead precarious lives, with only temporary roofs over their head and no place to call home.

There is a pressing need for rules in the rental market in order to establish some fairness and to create more stability. Thus, we applaud the Parliamentary Secretariat for Social Housing for working on a White Paper about regulation in this sector, to be published shortly, and look forward to contributing to the consultation process.

The Proposal for Rent Regulation in Malta is based on the recognition that people have a fundamental human right to adequate housing.

Skyrocketing rent prices over the last few years are hitting vulnerable groups the hardest, such as pensioners and low-income groups. Tenants regularly paying their rent are finding themselves forced out of their homes due to overnight exorbitant increases in the rent price requested, or having to use the largest part of their wage/pension for rent payment.

This reality is also increasingly affecting other groups, such as the youth, some of whom have no other option but to live in rented places due to unaffordable property prices.

As property prices continue their steep rise, the number of Maltese people living in rented places is destined to increase at a fast pace and, in a few years, it will not be uncommon for Maltese people to live in rented places. The introduction of effective rent regulation at this juncture is essential to ensure that the rental market is not driven exclusively by the urge for quick profits, without any consideration to the impact on individuals, society and the economy, but is sufficiently regulated for the benefit of all.

We believe that landlords will benefit too from a regulatory framework since this will increase clarity and peace of mind. Rent regulation will not stop landlords from making profits out of rented property.

The rent regulation model in this document has been developed by looking at rent regulation laws in other European countries. In fact, Malta is one of the very few EU countries where there is no effective rent regulation in place. The type of rent regulation present in European countries ranges from controls on initial prices (present in countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and France) to regulating contract length and rent-price increases (present in countries such as Belgium and Germany).

It is to be underlined that the model in our proposal has no relation to pre-1995 rent legislation that existed in our country. The model we are proposing here would not impose any tenant-landlord relationship, other than that established in contracts that have the agreement of both in the context of clear and fair rules.

The main points of our proposal are:

  • A tax regime that incentivises long-lets through lower tax rates for longer leases
  • The creation of a state registry of properties on the rental market as well as the establishment of a public entity responsible for rent regulation
  • The registration of properties that are up for rent, where the first price set in the first contract will be considered as the ‘initial price’
  • The possibility for landlords to increase rent-prices yearly during the duration of a contract by a percentage that does not exceed the cost-of-living-increase percentage. Once a contract expires, the landlord is allowed to draw-up a new contract with the same, or a different, tenant. In either case, the price set in the new contract cannot be higher than 10% of the last monthly rent paid under the previous contract. Besides the 10% limit, the price set in any new contract cannot be more than 25% higher than it was five years earlier. This is to avoid having landlords entering into short-term contracts in the knowledge that following each contract, they would be able to increase the rent by 10%
  • The establishment of a Rent Price Index that lists prices in 1) different areas and 2) for different classes of property according to their size and quality. Landlords would input in the state registry specifications pertinent to their property. An initial price should not exceed 10% of the price listed for that particular category within the Rent Price Index. This would prevent abuse (such as setting unrealistically high initial prices) whilst giving landowners ample leeway in setting initial prices, since the Rent Price Index would in itself reflect market prices, and the initial price can even be 10% higher
  • A system for the termination of contracts similar to that outlined in employment law
  • Provisions for clear rules on deposited money, payment of utility bills and upkeep of property
  • Protection for persons on existing lease agreements
  • The regulation of Agencies and a legal standing to a Tenants’ Union
  • A tax on empty rentable property that disincentivizes rent on the black market and increases the amount of properties for rent.

Rent regulation, which is the focus of our proposal, should only constitute one dimension of a strategy on affordable housing. Our country still lacks a comprehensive Housing Policy that aims to ensure the availability of affordable housing, including both affordable properties and affordable rent prices.

Affordable housing depends also on other factors, such as the availability of social housing and the overall strategy with regards to property and construction. Thus, it is being suggested that rent regulation is placed within a broader National Action Plan on property and affordable housing.

The following organisations are putting forward the Proposal for Rent Regulation in Malta:

Moviment Graffitti, Alleanza Kontra il-Faqar, Forum Komunita’ Bormliża, Malta Tenant Support, Malta Humanists Association, The Millennium Chapel, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, aditus foundation, Malta Gay Rights Movement, The Critical Institute, Spark 15, Mid-Dlam għad-Dawl, Women’s Rights Foundation, African Media Association Malta, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Integra Foundation and Third World Group Malta.



‘This is Home’ campaign launch

On Saturday morning (16 December), aditus foundation, Integra Foundation and Jesuit Refugee Service Malta (JRS) officially launched the ‘This is Home’ campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to call on the government for a legal pathway to regularisation for all rejected asylum seekers who have lived in Malta for 5 years or more, and have not been returned to their country through no fault of their own.

Concretely, the campaign calls for this legal pathway to be ‘fair and impartial’, inscribed in law and publicly available, with the applicant’s integration efforts and links to Malta taken into consideration, not just their employment status.

The campaign is borne of the long overdue need to regularise those people living a precarious existence in Malta for many years, though all the while working, building social ties and contributing to Malta as their home. Many people in this group hold THPN, however this status is shrouded in secrecy since the criteria for obtaining it is not publicly available, and it is not even regulated by law.

This means that the Ministry can, seemingly arbitrarily, choose to stop renewing it, thereby throwing an entire community into panic. The fact that THPN is also directly linked to employment also means it is an unstable status, while failing to grant it to a family as a unit creates further problems for spouses and dependents.

Meanwhile, another cross-section of this group comprises a number of people living in Malta without any documents, who have succeeded in spite of these obstacles in building a life here.

This campaign is a very important step towards regularising a community that is already thriving in Malta. As Stella David, living in Malta since 2005, succinctly puts it:

Maltese people already know about us, it is the government that needs to recognise us and our efforts.

This campaign also has a wider impact that benefits Maltese society more generally. As Dr. Francois Mifsud attested at the launch, democracy subsists on encounters with diversity and bringing into the mainstream those people previously pushed towards the margins, and providing them with a pathway to regularisation, can only strengthen our democracy.

In line with its community-building nature, this campaign seeks to engage the efforts of the entire community. Anyone may sign the petition so as to help light the fire under a campaign that seeks to make Maltese society stronger for all.

Post by Helena Agathangelou, Legal Intern