Updated 2.20pm - Former Housing Authority CEO reacts

Property owners will soon be able to lease their homes to the Housing Authority for use as social housing, as part of a new scheme unveiled today.

Addressing a press conference, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Housing Roderick Galdes said the leased properties would be locked-in for 10 years, providing a guaranteed income to property owners according to market prices.

Rent received on the property would be tax-free, Mr Galdes said.

Properties on plan, as well as existing ones in a finished or shell state would all be considered, he said.

He said priority would be given to easily-accessible properties.

Those hoping for a sea view will be disappointed, as Mr Galdes said no seafront or luxury properties would be considered.

An independent panel will be evaluating the properties under consideration.

Applications for the scheme open on September 1.

We came up with this scheme, but Labour stopped it in 2013 - PN

The announcement was roundly panned by the Nationalist Party, who through its spokesman Ivan Bartolo noted that it was a PN government which had launched this scheme back in November 2012. 

Through it, hundreds of private properties were rented to the government to use for social housing.

At the time, this had been an innovative scheme which had been praised by many, but not by the Labour Opposition which had criticised it and stopped it as one of its first decisions in 2013, the PN said. 

Now that the housing problem had aggravated, the government had no option but to relaunch the scheme.

The PN, Mr Bartolo said, praised what was good and criticised what was bad. So although it was good that the scheme was relaunched, the government should have explained facts and not try to deceive the people.

Former Authority CEO reacts

Former Housing Authority CEO Albert Buttigieg agreed with the PN, telling Times of Malta that this scheme was launched by the authority when he led it. 

"I can assure you that I was given a very rough time and was one of the reasons I was asked to leave," he said. 

The only difference at the time, he noted, was that the original plan would have seen property owners taxed at 5 per cent. 

A promotional video for the original scheme is still available on YouTube (see below).