The Housing Authority would be the sole regulator of the rent law when new regulations came into force in January, the government announced yesterday.

Addressing a press conference, the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accommodation, Roderick Galdes said the authority was being given more responsibilities in order to properly regulate the rental market under the new law that was approved by Parliament last week.

A new section within the authority, the Private Residential Leases Unit, has also been set up to handle registrations from landlords, which will have to be submitted online through a newly-set up website.

Mr Galdes said the unit would be tasked with enforcing certain “small issues” to avoid having to resolve them in court. It would also be given the power to enforce regulations as stipulated under the new law and gather data to help the government understand the rental market better.

Following the reform’s ap-proval in Parliament last week, the Malta Developers’ Association (MDA) said the changes would result in the cutting down of freedom of contract between landlords and tenants of residential properties. It also warned that it could lead to a lose-lose outcome for both tenants and landlords.

After more than two years in the making, the highly-anticipated reform was unveiled in June and, in an effort to cap rising rents, introduced a number of new measures that directly impacted landlords. This prompted a group of them, backed by the MDA, to declare the changes “anti-landlord”.

During yesterday’s press conference, Mr Galdes insisted the authorities would be working closely with “all stakeholders”.

CEO Leonid McKay said the new responsibilities would, for the first time, see the authority handling all housing-related issues. Several landlords had already made use of the online services being offered through the new platform, he said.

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