Claim: A Facebook listing of a property in Pietà shows a 10-bed dormitory being rented out for €250 per month for each bed.
Verdict: Although listings for cramped rental properties are becoming increasingly widespread in Malta, the listing uses a photo taken from a hostel in Bangkok and does not accurately describe the property.
A photo widely shared over the weekend claiming to show a ten-bed dormitory in Pietà caused an uproar, appearing to be just the most recent example of exploitative rental properties littering Malta’s rental market.
The issue of low-quality housing and exploitative rental conditions has become increasingly concerning over the past years, with several instances of people living in unsanitary conditions being documented.
At the beginning of this month, Times of Malta revealed that around 40 foreign workers were living in a cramped and unsanitary Sliema apartment, each paying €250 per month in rent.
Earlier in the year, a YMCA study found several instances of foreign workers being exploited by landlords and even being forced to sleep in construction sites. YMCA had previously also reported cases of people living in garages, as they no longer were able to keep up with soaring rental prices.
The photo shared over the weekend appears to present a similar instance of cramped and overpriced living conditions.
However, the photo itself is not actually of a property in Pietà but is taken from the listing of a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Who posted the listing?
The photo was originally posted on Facebook marketplace by a Facebook profile using the name John Camilleri.
Clicking on John Camilleri's profile reveals that this user has never posted anything on their personal account and both their profile picture and cover photo are blank.
The only activity on Camilleri's profile appears to be repeated listings for a rental property in Pietà, sometimes describing it as an 8-bed space and others as a 10-bed dormitory. The listings usually use generic photos of the Pietà seafront, without any images of the property itself.
The listing shared over the past few days is the only such listing to present a photo of the property. However, it offers little information about the property, only describing it as a 10-bed dormitory with sea views and a balcony.
The rent for each bed is listed as €250 per month.
The picture shows a sparse wooden-floored room with eight separate bunk beds, each with a grey curtain for privacy. No other pictures of the property are presented.
The listing was spotted by several Facebook users who shared it on their own profiles, expressing their disgust at the listing.
It was later shared by Lovin Malta, who reported on the public’s reaction to the listing.
Is there really a property in Pietà for rent?
Times of Malta contacted the user who posted the listing in an attempt to verify whether or not the listing is real.
The user confirmed that the image used in the listing is not really of the property, saying that they are actually trying to rent out a property currently undergoing refurbishment that will house three to four beds in a room.
In their replies, the user argued that they don't want people to live in "miserable conditions", describing the apartment as a "decent place" that will include air-conditioning.
"It is better than having someone who can't afford €1,000 in rent ending up living outside," they said.
When asked why a three or four-bed room was being advertised as a 10-bed dormitory, the user said that ten beds will be available across the apartment. Asked whether it would be possible to visit the property, they invited Times of Malta to visit once the refurbishment is complete.
Where is the photo from?
A reverse image search of the image reveals that the photo is taken from a listing for the Good Day Hostel in the Ratchathewi district in central Bangkok.
The hostel offers beds in 8-bed mixed dormitory rooms for the price of €11 per night. It is advertised on several leading hotel booking websites, including Booking.com, AirBnB and Hostelworld.
The pages for the hotel on these websites show the original version of the photo that was later taken and cropped to be used in the Facebook listing, alongside several other photos of the same bunk beds.
While the issue of exploitative and cramped housing is becoming increasingly widespread, the particular listing in question uses a photo taken from a hostel in Bangkok.
The user posting the advert claims that there is a real apartment for rent but has not provided any evidence of the real conditions of the property.
This claim is therefore false, as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.
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