Fabian Demicoli

Business owners speak on Rent Reform

 Yesterday a good number of business owners that will be hit by the Rent Reform Law met at GRTU to ensure that, at Committee Stage and during the debates in Parliament, the political parties of both sides give more attention to the problems that will hit business owners operating from rented property under a pre-1995 contract.

GRTU's Director General Vincent Farrugia explained that while GRTU recognises the right property owners have to dispose of their property freely in legal terms and under the rights established under the European Directives, GRTU cannot ignore that the enterprise, that is creating growth and jobs, has to be given priority. The Director General explained how in other European countries it is till today recognised that who starts an enterprise, that creates employment and services all the community, has all the safeguards necessary. In this was this individual not only is encouraged to invest, lease and expand but also is given the necessary time under law to recuperate the investment he has made.

Vincent Farrugia also insisted that it is not acceptable to GRTU that the value added, which increases the value of the property rented for commercial purposes, is only due to the increases in prices of the property market. The increase in value of a rented property for the purpose of a commercial enterprise is not only due to the increase in the prices of the property market but also because the individual running the enterprise from this location has, through investment and work carried out, increased the value of the property. Vincent Farrugia continued to insist that this principle needs to be recognised at law.

The Director General also stated that even though Government accepted GRTU's proposal that the new law is not to interfere in contracts where the landlord and the tenants have come to an agreement on commercial properties, the Rent Reform Bill still doesn't recognise as valid contacts where the conditions have been agreed upon and clear however the contract is indefinite. GRTU believes that in these cases it can never be the law to undo what was clearly agreed upon by two parties for an indefinite period, and for which in many cases a stipulated amount was paid by the tenant, and impose a definite period of twenty years. During the meeting several points were raised by business owners, particularly by those operating from property which has the Government as landlord, these expressed their worries that if the Bill is made Law they will have their rights taken away without compensation, in some cases the consequences for these enterprises will be disastrous. They have asked GRTU to ask for a financial compensation on their behalf.

If the Bill becomes law it will result in thousands of Euros in loss to many enterprises, the Government has no legal right to make them suffer this loss.

The GRTU members asked GRTU to appeal to the two parties in Government for more consideration to do what is really right and not take the easiest way out and take into consideration only what the property owners are saying.

GRTU will be once again redrafting fresh proposals and presenting them to be evaluated at committee stage, this so that the interest of owners of enterprises owners is safeguarded.

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