Fabian Demicoli

Rent Issue


GRTU continues to insist strongly
that the political parties should seriously face the problems raised by their
own parliamentarians when they rashly voted in favour of the Rent Reform Act
which grievously damaged the safeguards that thousands of retailers and small
businesses enjoyed as tenants of commercial properties. GRTU contends that June
2009 was one of the darkest days for thousands of retailers victims of a wrong
parliamentary decision.

More recently GRTU has included this
very important issue in its proposals to the political parties for the General
Election:

GRTU considers that the Rent Reform,
which was passed with the support of all political parties, represents the
gravest example of initiative against a significant number of Maltese
enterprises since the war. The majority of European countries make it easy for
small enterprises to rent premises for commercial or economic operations and
the tenant is given enough breath to be able to redeem before the lessee can
dismiss him or increase his rent, including the provision of incentives by the
state where the commercial property owner is a private individual. In such a
way micro and small business in village cores and historic centres are
safeguarded rather than risking being wiped out as is happening in Malta. The
Maltese politicians in a unique case of consensus decided to take away this
right which had for so long been practiced in agreement between both the tenant
and the lessee.

GRTU strongly recommends the
reintroduction of lease protection for all enterprise owners who lease property
from property owners at least for a period of 12 years in which time,
independent private entrepreneurs will have opportunity to redeem their
investments before lease owners can evict or force renewal of lease. This is a
protection that exists in many other EU Member States and the Maltese
parliament gravely distorted the situation when all protection of small
enterprise owners on lease of commercial properties was removed. GRTU strongly
recommends the main political parties to commit to this obligating.

GRTU's efforts to change this law in
a system that is just and the tenant is safeguarded from expulsion have failed.
Several times were we told that our cause is right but no one has risen to
protect the enterprises that had their legally binding contacts cancelled. GRTU
appeals to the political parties to make it clear in their electoral manifestos
that small enterprises that operate from rented premises to earn their living
must be protected irrespective of anything else.

In a modern society it is
unacceptable for the state to interfere unilaterally in agreements existing
between third parties. The state has the duty to ascertain that efficient and
summary processes are in place to determine rent issues without the necessity
of direct state intervention.

GRTU appeals that those tenants that
had valid agreements recognised by law and by the lessee, who for so many years
had accepted the conditions he himself had set, must be respected. GRTU remains
strongly in opposition to the amendment of the Civil Code whereby the lease of
certain commercial premises is arbitrarily terminated in 2028 and 2018 for
subleases.

GRTU solicits that the recent
initiative in favour of commercial premises rented from Government situated in
Valletta include all economic premises within all areas the locality without
exception and that similar incentives are introduced forthwith to all other
localities in Malta and Gozo.

GRTU also proposes that long term
incentives are introduced, similarly to those policies applicable to state
owned industrial properties, whereby such properties are granted on emphyteusis
(cens) in lieu of rent.

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