The Malta Developers Association suggested today that a number of apartments could be reserved for social cases in major developments which the Planning Authority felt could benefit from concessions - such as extra floors

MDA president Sandro Chetcuti said this form of social gain could happen, for example, where the PA granted extra floors because the developments did not create negative environmental impact. 

He was speaking as he welcomed Parliamentary Secretary for Housing, Roderick Galdes, on a visit tot he MDA premises in Pieta'.

Mr Galdes, in an introduction, said a scheme launched last month, whereby landlords were invited to make properties available to the government for social housing, has been a success. 149 applications from interested landlords have already been received, he said.

He also referred to the problem of fast rising rents, saying a White Paper proposing an update to the post-1995 rent laws is being prepared.

 Mr Galdes said that a group of experts had been commissioned by the government to analyse existing legislation and come up with a set of proposals to close loopholes and respond to the rise in demand for property for rent.

“The status quo is not an option,” the parliamentary secretary said. He pointed out that the remit of these experts would be to investigate the reasons behind rising rental prices as well as abuses both by tenants and landlords.

He said that while the government itself was building more apartments for social housing,  agreement with a commercial bank would be reached soon to make social housing loans available. 

Mr Chetcuti outlined a series of proposals which he said would help to address the shortage of low-budget property. 

He called on the government to raise the minimum threshold of monthly rental rates for wealthy foreigners buying a Maltese passport. Mr Chetcuti said that the existing requirement to spend at least 1,500 euro a month to rent a property, was too low as it was eating up from the supply of low-budget properties on the market.

The MDA is also suggesting a radical overhaul of rent legislation, saying it is discouraging landlords from putting their property on the market, as in cases of abuse they have to go court to evict the tenants. 

Thirdly, developers are suggesting for the refurbishment of old properties for social housing purposes. 

Moreover, Mr Chetcuti suggested the introduction of the concept of social gain in planning permits. Under this model, developers would come into agreement with the planning authority to dedicate part of the revenue or allocate a number of apartments from large projects, for social purposes. In return, developers would benefit from advantageous permit conditions, like being allowed to build an additional storeys, albeit within existing planning parameters.