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PR 10/18 | Feedback on White Paper – Renting as a Housing Alternative

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti congratulates the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes and his research team on the quality and thoroughness of the consultation process carried out regarding the White Paper titled: Renting as a Housing Alternative. This commendable effort should be set as a benchmark and a best-practice example for public consultation processes undertaken by other public entities in the future.

The White Paper is a well-researched and well-founded document. It properly identifies the problems with the rental market in Malta, and sets out a strategy to tackle these problems whilst keeping a balance between the interests of landlords and tenants. The impact of the current rental/housing crisis is clearly and frankly outlined. The White Paper argues that the causes for the rental crisis lie both in the “burgeoning economy” but also in changing household composition.

The White Paper quotes an increase in “family breakdowns” and “single individuals”, as one of the primary causes. However, the analysis of the quoted statistics shows that this trend, although significant, is of the same order of magnitude as the number of applicants under the IIP, and many orders of magnitude lower than the impact of the rapid expansion of the foreign labour market.

Nevertheless, the range of proposals outlined in the White Paper appear to have been carefully crafted to address current issues, without heavily intervening in market forces. This is commendable since heavy market intervention has proven unsuccessful in the past, in Malta and elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether the proposals will be sufficient to correct the current crisis.

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti put forward various suggestions and observations on a number of matters in reaction to the White Paper, including on the following:

  • Rent subsidies, which the Kamra suggests should be converted to a housing allowance, similar to the British housing benefit, while however keeping in mind the risk that increasing liquidity in the rental market coupled with sustained population growth would result in further inflationary pressures;
  • The right of the landlord to withdraw from contracts in certain cases, which may give rise to abuse, since the objectives of the proposed regulation may be completely circumvented;
  • Pre-1995 leases, which are not addressed in the White Paper;
  • Affordable housing, which the White Paper terms as “the ultimate solution to the rental problem”, and the proposal for a “third sector” of housing provision, using innovative housing foundations or associations, or Public-Private Partnerships;
  • The introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which the Kamra believes to be long overdue;
  • Reliance on private supply, which the White Paper declares to have “failed”, and which in the Kamra’s opinion is a result of the complete absence of the role of urban planning in addressing the housing crisis, and the absence of measures to create affordable housing through the planning gain instrument;
  • Social housing, which is sometimes confused with “affordable housing”, is a solution which the Kamra sees as a temporary solution for those citizens who require it until they are able to move on to better prospects, and the suggestion that schemes for people to buy out their allocated “social” housing should be discontinued, since this effectively diminishes Government’s social housing stock, and, as has happened in the past, effectively allows people to profit off public resources;
  • The introduction of habitability and quality standards, which the Kamra agrees should be introduced without delay since the current crisis is not only due to high rental prices, but also the poor quality of the part of the supply;
  • The importance of placing greater emphasis on the curbing of discriminatory practices against minorities and socially disadvantaged members of society, including low-income earners;
  • The compulsory registration of contracts of lease, which the Kamra supports completely; and
  • The proposed establishment of a Rent Agency, and the Kamra’s opinion that rather than establishing a new agency, the Housing Authority should be thoroughly reformed such that the regulation of the housing sector becomes its primary function.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti considers the White Paper as a positive document which, on the basis of detailed research, proposes a number of regulatory mechanisms to address the current housing crisis. The proposed mechanisms now have to be fine-tuned and embraced by the political leadership.

 

 

 

KTP submits its Consultation Reply on the Kottonera Strategy document

The Kamra tal-Periti has submitted its feedback on the Kottonera Strategy document issued by the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee as part of the public consultation process.

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti welcomed the proposed Cottonera Strategy Document, which appears to have been prepared through a bottom-up approach which involved the residents, the Local Councils and the various entities which operate with the towns in the region. It is clear that this approach has led Government to have a good understanding of the problems faced by these localities, as well as to understand the various solutions which have been proposed by those who inhabit, or regularly visit, the area.

The Kamra has made four principal proposals in its consultation reply:

  1. Expansion of restoration grants in the Cottonera area
  2. The use of design competitions for the various public projects being proposed in the document to promote excellence in design
  3. The setting up of a Centre for Architecture and the Built Environment in the Cottonera area. Malta is indeed one of the few European countries not to have such a centre.
  4. Nine urban project proposals.

Click here for to read all the public consultation replies and press releases issued by the Kamra in the past few years.

 

Courts Registrar issues new call for Experts for 2019

The Registrar of the Courts of Justice of Malta has issued a call for Court Experts in terms of Art. 89 of Chapter 12 of the Laws of Malta.

The Kamra tal-Periti is hereby notifying all interested members of the profession to submit their nomination for 2019 through the registration form below.

Deadline for the submission of nominations is 30th November, 2018.

Registration form

Warranting Board Elections to be held on Friday 5th October

The Warranting Board is holding elections elected directly by the profession’s membership on Friday 5th October. The nominees are:

Bezzina Anthony MP0486069M‘Volga Flts’ Flt 2, Triq is-Siġġiewi, Qrendi
Bonnici Roderick0277984M147, Triq Edgar Bernard, Gżira

The elections, which are managed by the Electoral Commission, will be held on Friday 5th October between 11am and 3pm without interruption at the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure & Capital Projects, Project House, Floriana.

Warrant holders are requested to present their ID card, or any other official identification document bearing a passport photograph, at the polling station. You must select only one of the three candidates on the voting document by marking an [X] in the box next to the chosen candidate’s name.

The counting process will commence immediately upon the closure of the ballot box at 3pm.

The composition of the Warranting Board is regulated by Art 6 of the Periti Act, Cap. 390, as follows:

  • A chairman to be appointed by the Minister from among persons who are or have been qualified to be appointed judges in Malta;
  • Two members appointed by the Minister from among warrant holders, who have held their warrant for at least eight years;
  • Two members appointed by the Kamra from among warrant holders who have held their warrant for at least eight years; and
  • Two members who shall be elected by secret ballot by warrant holders from among themselves.
 The term of the board members expires after two years, except for the chairman whose term ends after three years.

“Architecture for a better world”

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PR 08/18 | Launch of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia 2019

Launch of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia 2019

The Kamra tal-Periti will be launching the second edition of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia on Friday 5th October 2018, to coincide with World Habitat Day and World Architecture Day which will be celebrated on the 1st October, and with European Engineers Day which is celebrated on the 5th October. The award scheme will be launched during the opening of an exhibition of theses and dissertations by the latest cohort of Master graduates from the Faculty for the Built Environment. A shortlist of the submitted work will be established by the jury, and the selected students invited to present their work to the jurors during the following week. The winners will be announced during the final Awards Ceremony of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia to be held in June 2019.

The exhibition of the students’ work will be open to the public during Notte Bianca on the 6th October 2018 at the University of Malta, Valletta Campus.

 

World Habitat Day, World Architecture Day and Europan Engineers Day 2018

World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly, and was first celebrated in 1986. The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It also reminds us that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

This year’s theme is Municipal Solid Waste Management, a global issue that affects everyone. The amount of waste produced by individuals is growing daily and often costs local authorities a large proportion of their budget. Poor solid waste collection and disposal can lead to serious health problems from uncontrolled dump sites and waste burning. It also leads to polluted air and water.

A change in public attitudes to minimise waste and stop littering, increased recycling and reusing, sufficient funding, solid waste planning including adequate landfill sites, can help cities to improve the current state of solid waste management and save money to become ‘Waste-Wise Cities’.

In 1986, the International Union of Architects (UIA) established World Architecture Day to coincide with World Habitat Day, with the aim to draw the attention of professionals and the public to issues concerning cities and housing. The theme chosen for 2018 is “Architecture … for a Better World”.

Every 5th October, the European engineering organisations ECEC (European Council of Engineers Chambers), FEANI (European Federation of National Engineering Associations), ECCE (European Council of Civil Engineers), together with ENAEE (European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education) celebrate European Engineers Day to draw attention to the importance of securing the availability of excellent engineering solutions in Europe. The impact of engineering is visible in every aspect of human life, through increasingly more sophisticated inventions, techniques and equipment, and this Day is a good opportunity to remind the profession of the importance of achieving excellence in their respective fields.

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PR 07/18 | KTP welcomes White Paper on Building & Construction Authority

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the White Paper issued for consultation by the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects for the setting up of a Building and Construction Authority. The consolidation of the various fragmented pieces of legislation, bodies and departments regulating the industry under one legislative and administrative umbrella is a positive development towards ensuring higher standards in the building and construction industry, to bring it in line with modern practice and standards, and to ensure the protection and sustainability of the significant investment made when properties are bought or rented out.

For many years now, the Kamra has struggled to impress upon the authorities the importance of separating planning development issues from those related to standards and regulations of buildings, not just at inception, but right through to end-of-life considerations. The Kamra has repeatedly called for the introduction of a full suite of building and construction regulations, backed up by a properly resourced Building Regulation Office. The principles outlined in the White Paper are aligned with the views of the Kamra tal-Periti, and, we believe, augur well for the industry. The Authority, if backed by all the necessary human, financial and technological resources, has the potential to make a significant contribution towards a better quality in our built environment. The Authority will, we believe, give additional impetus to the efforts of BICC, over the past years, to foster the right technical skills within the industry. We believe that only in this way can it be expected that every actor in the industry can take responsibility for what he or she does.

The Kamra tal-Periti will be shortly publishing a Policy Framework Document about this very subject, on which it has been working for the past months, to provide an analysis of the current situation, together with a framework for proposed reforms. It trusts that such a document will enable Government to attain the goals it has set in the White Paper, for the sake of the industry and its clients. The Kamra tal-Periti reiterates its full commitment and support to the Government in successfully implementing its vision, as expressed by the setting up of the Building & Construction Authority.

PA revises its processes to allow the submission of DNs in regularised properties

The Planning Authority has announced this morning that after having been alerted by the Kamra tal-Periti, it has reviewed its process regarding Development Notifications (DNs) for properties covered by a valid regularisation.

Members of the Kamra had notified the Council back in March 2018 that the Planning Authority was not accepting DNs on properties covered by a regularisation. Periti were being advised to submit full or summary planning applications instead.

The Development Notification Order (DNO) provides a schedule of types of minor development that are automatically permitted without requiring a formal planning application. In Malta, permitted developments are classified in two categories: permitted without notification; and permitted with notification. In the latter category, the applicant is required to submit through his/her Perit a notification together with plans, photographs and payment of €60 fee to the Planning Authority so it may be notified about the works and confirm that they fall within the schedule of permitted development.

The Planning Authority had in recent years decided not to allow DNs for properties covered by an active planning permit, and directed periti to submit Minor Amendment (MA) requests instead. Although nowhere in the law does it state that properties covered by an active permit cannot also be the subject of a DN, there were little practical differences between a DN and a MA, except for the planning fee which in the latter case is €175, instead of €60.

The difficulties arose when regularisations started being approved, since the Regularisation of Existing Development Regulations did not allow for the possibility of submitting a MA, and the internal procedures of the PA also prevented periti from submitting a DN on behalf of their clients. This resulted in applicants having to go through much lengthier planning processes to seek planning approval for minor development which had already been approved and listed in the schedule of the DNO.

With the announcement made by the PA this morning, owners who wished to make a minor alteration to their property but needed to regularise it first are no longer being prejudiced by the incorrect application of the law.