Feature: High interest shown in Malta Housing Authority Rental Scheme

The Housing Authority has received a strong response to the new scheme that entices people to offer their vacant properties up for rent to provide a home for the 535 people on the waiting list.

So far, owners of more than 500 properties have expressed interest in the scheme which opened on February 27 and closes on April 30.
The authority is, however, expecting a surge over the next few weeks when property owners start receiving compliance certificates from the planning authority confirming their properties were built according to permit.

A spokesman for the authority said that, through this scheme, owners of vacant houses or apartments in Malta and Gozo may lease their property to the authority at a withholding tax rate of five per cent instead of the usual 35 per cent rate.

The property will then be rented out by the authority to its clients for a minimum of 10 years.
Among the conditions is that the property has to be finished, has been empty for the last six months and has a monthly rental fee of not more than €400.

An authority spokesman said since the scheme was publicised the website www.skemakiri.com received more than 2,200 unique hits. Moreover, around 40 people turned up at the authority’s customer care department requesting more information.

Some of these, the spokesman said, claimed they could offer dozens of properties.
The authority is hoping to find between 450 and 500 suitable properties, which could include apartments, houses or maisonettes, to address the priority list of applicants for alternative accommodation.

An independent board has been set up to evaluate the applications and choose the properties focusing on those offering most value for money and addressing the needs of people on the waiting list, the spokesman said.

According to the 2005 census, there are more than 53,000 vacant dwellings in Malta, an asset estimated at some €7 billion. Of the vacant dwellings, 20 per cent are summer residences and 25 per cent are dilapidated and have to be redeveloped.

This scheme seems to be attracting more interest than a similar one launched by the authority in 1999 offering property owners a grant of up to €8,000 to renovate their properties on condition they then rented them out for a minimum of 10 years.

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