AD presents its proposals on Rent Reform
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AD Chairperson Prof. Arnold Cassola, Secretary General Victor Galea and Spokesperson on Sustainable Development and Local Government Carmel Cacopardo have presented AD’s proposals on the Rent Reform White Paper to Minister for Social Policy John Dalli.
Prof. Cassola said, “AD has put the issue, which was neglected for years on end – since the war – back on the agenda and has achieved its aim of initiating the reform process. We are glad that now finally all those affected are being given the opportunity to make their proposals for a better and more just law.”
AD spokesperson Carmel Cacopardo who prepared AD’s position paper said, “The state has to shoulder the burden of social housing : This is an area which should be given priority by the State so as to avoid situations of homelessness or substandard housing. A new housing policy should aim to assist the most vulnerable groups, groups which are at risk of poverty and first-time house seekers. The proposed reforms differentiate between tenants on the basis of their economic status. Agreement to this recommendation would be dependent on the type of burden and who is to shoulder it.”
Carmel Cacopardo added, “The transitional ‘one time only’ conditions for the inheritance of lease is an acceptable compromise. The fact that this transition does not apply to persons with reasonable economic worth is also positive and fair. The only AD concern in this respect is the restricted definition of the family in the government’s proposals which ignores emerging family units.”
Arnold Cassola reiterated, “AD thinks that the White Paper proposal that pre-1995 commercial properties achieve full rental value after a 12 year transition period is excessive and should be reduced to 6 years. We also think that the proposal that all pre-1995 commercial tenancies will be terminated within 20 years of the 1st June 2008 unless landlord and tenant arrive at an agreement at an earlier date is also too long. AD is of the opinion that the transition would be more than reasonable if it is reduced by half to 10 years.”
The AD position paper says that what was initially very worrying however was the proposal to exempt political parties from the impacts of rent reform. This however was eventually clarified by the Hon Minister who in a public statement on national TV stated that political parties will not be exempted. Furthermore, the statement by newly elected PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier that the PN was prepared to renounce to any proposal for its exemption from the proposed rent reform was reassuring. AD hopes that the MLP will follow suit.
When considering the above, AD is of the opinion that overall the White Paper is a positive exercise which aims to reach a reasonable balance amongst the different interests in civil society. If government takes serious note of all the alternative proposals that will be announced as part of the national debate on the subject its proposals may be improved. AD is willing to act as a social and political partner in order to ensure a reform which is sustainable in social, economic and ecological aspects.