Action has been taken against almost 400 social housing tenants in the last four years for abuse that includes squatting, renting out units or passing them on to another person.
Housing minister Roderick Galdes on Monday revealed the figures as he vowed to weed out abuse of social housing units.
“Land in Malta is scarce, and public funds are not a bottomless pit,” he said.
Galdes said ever since gaining responsibility for the sector in 2017, his ministry had always acted on reports of abuse, and passed on information to the police.
Addressing a press conference, he said that between 2017 and 2021, 392 occupants had the keys to their social housing units taken away from them.
He urged members of the public aware of any such abuse to report it to the housing authority.
In March, the minister found himself in the spotlight after taking it upon himself to personally phone up successful social housing applicants.
When contacted about the matter, a spokesperson for Galdes confirmed the minister did reach out to individuals from time to time, especially when they opted to “approach the minister directly through any means of communication”.
“The decision to allocate social accommodation rests exclusively with the Allocation Board within the Housing Authority, a body which is autonomous from the ministry or the Housing Authority board itself," the spokesperson had said.
The authority’s CEO Leonid Mckay said that apart from investing in new housing projects, it is vital to ensure the existing stock of social housing was not being abused.
Mckay fired off a list of the types of abuse encountered by the authority:
- Squatting in social housing units
- Vacating a unit without returning the key to the authority
- Not allowing the authority to inspect occupied properties
- Passing on a property to another occupant without informing the authority
- Using social housing units for commercial purposes, or renting them out
- Building illegal structures inside or on the roof of social housing units
Mckay said that while he does not want to generalise, there are “pockets of people” carrying out such abuse.
He said the authority carries out physical inspections and desktop research to weed out cases of abuse.
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