A new PN government promises to build 500 new social housing units every year in a bid to tackle long waiting lists for accommodation, the party said on Thursday. 

Expanding into proposals related to housing in the PN’s electoral manifesto, party spokesperson Peter Agius and candidate Ivan Bartolo said that the Nationalist Party would increase the social housing stock by 500 units every year through public-private partnerships.

Any developer who meets their environmental, sustainable and good governance obligations will be welcome to join the scheme, with the number of units being achieved through a mix of new public housing projects as well as leasing from the private sector. 

The PN in government will also seek to incentivise private landlords to lower rent for residential accommodation through tax breaks, with those renting properties for social accommodation or for less than €300 a month having their rental income tax-exempt, for less than €600 halved to 7.5% on rental income, and 15% for properties that charge over €600 a month. 

Agius said the party wants to empower people who live in social housing and guide them to owning their own homes. 

Bartolo said the party would establish a national housing strategy that will take stock of all the existing housing units and identify those properties that are of substandard quality. 

A new scheme will also allow elderly people who wish to downsize their homes to be exempt from stamp duty on the first €300,000 on their property deal, provided that they move into their new home within six months of signing a contract. 

When it comes to people receiving subsidies on their rental accommodation, the PN promises it would not remove the safeguards in place on properties subject to rental agreements pre-1995, but expand on them by offering to double the rent subsidy for residents who have a disability by up to €10,000 a year. 

For people who struggle to pay the rent but do not qualify for assistance due to means testing, the PN said it would offer temporary assistance as long as the applicant is younger than 65 years old and in full-time employment, up to a maximum of €40,000 a year in income. 

These will be tapered over a three-year period to allow the tenant to adjust to the rental market accordingly. Applicants will receive a 75% benefit the first year, a 50% benefit the second and a 25% benefit in their third year of applying for the scheme. 

The PN has also promised to partner with NGOs to increase the number of temporary shelters so that no person waiting for accommodation would end up without a place to sleep at night.

Bartolo said that there are currently over 300 people on a waiting list for a temporary shelter who are most likely squatting or living in a garden shed somewhere, who deserve the dignity of a roof over their heads.

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