Sustainable communities – Design Competition EOI

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PR 04/19 | Specialised Housing Programmes

Verzjoni bil-Malti

Sustainable communities

For many years, the Kamra tal-Periti has been promoting the concept that projects undertaken through public funding should be awarded on the basis of design competitions, evaluated on the basis of their contribution to the social and built environment. The adoption of such a process would go a long way towards ensuring that society is provided with the best quality projects.

It is therefore with great pleasure that the Kamra tal-Periti announces its collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretariat for Social Accommodation and the Housing Authority in the establishment of a new scheme for Specialised Housing Programmes (SHPs)

The objective of the SHPs is to identify vulnerable user groups and provide suitable accommodation which is designed around the principles of social inclusion, environmental well-being and spatial quality. In line with this ethos, the adoption of the design competition process for the procurement of the design aspect of the scheme will ensure that the highest levels of quality are achieved.

The Union of International Architects, of which the Kamra is a member, also promotes design competitions as “a quality-based and solution-oriented selection procedure for architectural services, the best way to achieve quality in the built environment. A competition provides the best solution for a concrete task, selected from among several entries by the jury. Therefore it guarantees high value and the optimal concept for the client and the users.

The scheme was initially launched last week by the Honourable Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accommodation. Yesterday, a number of NGOs attended an information session where more details were provided about the scheme. Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, President of the Kamra tal-Periti, presented the design competition process to those present, outlining that NGOs will be able to select the property that will house their proposed project from a number of properties that will be made available by Government. Following an initial process of shortlisting, warranted periti will be able to submit design proposals for one or more of the shortlisted projects, which proposals will then be assessed by a jury composed of members appointed by the Kamra and the Board established to oversee the scheme.

The Kamra tal-Periti will shortly be issuing a call for Expressions of Interest for periti interested in participating in the process.

 

Further information:

https://housingauthority.gov.mt/en/Pages/Schemes/Specialised-Housing-Programmes.aspx

 

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PR 03/19 | Perit Vincent Cassar awarded the RIBA Presidential Medal

On the evening of the 14th February 2019, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) bestowed the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture 2019 on Sir Nicholas Grimshaw CBE, PPRA, who is well known for his modernist buildings, including Waterloo International railway station and the Eden Project in Cornwall. With a career spanning six decades, Sir Grimshaw was recognized for his “indelible contribution to contemporary architecture. His practice is recognized internationally for its finely crafted and technically pioneering approach to the design of buildings, infrastructure and civic projects”.

On the same evening, Perit Vincent Cassar, a Past President of the Kamra tal-Periti and current President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), was awarded the RIBA Presidential Medal in recognition of the beneficial contribution and collaboration between CAA and RIBA, and to stimulate further dialogue between the two organisations.

The Medals were bestowed as part of the “RIBA Royal Gold Medal and Fellowships Week”, held between the 12th and 14th February 2019 in London, which event attracted a number of Presidents of international, regional and local organisations.

 

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw (left) with Perit Vincent Cassar

 

RIBA Royal Gold Medal and Fellowships Week

The week started off with an International Presidents’ roundtable with the participation of 12 Presidents, including: Georg Pendl, President of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE); Thomas Vonier, President of the International Union of Architects (UIA); Victor Leonel Miguel, President of the Africa Union of Architects; and Rita Soh, President of ARCASIA. The roundtable was chaired by Ben Derbyshire, President RIBA, and focused on the “Future of the Profession” statement which was signed by the Presidents of the five architecture institutes of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Presidents of these five institutes came together to critically examine and reassert the role and value of architects in serving clients and society and have committed to:

  1. Place the public interest and value to society at the heart of all we do – by promoting the highest ethical standards and ensuring codes of conduct are continually strengthened;
  2. Be accountable, and the Gold Standard – by protecting the public and maintaining the highest standards of architectural education;
  3. Reflect the diversity of the population in our workforce – by adopting reforms and policies that promote diversity and inclusion within business practices;
  4. Research, build and share essential knowledge – by developing and disseminating the body of knowledge embedded within the profession;
  5. Lead our profession in the fight for a more sustainable built environment – by placing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a key guiding principle in all they do.

Following an overview by the RIBA President of these five goals, the participants split into three groups to discuss three topics, namely, education, public interest and networking, the latter of which was put forward by Perit Cassar during the roundtable discussion. He also emphasised the need to act on these issues now, rather than allowing them to remain on paper. The roundtable resolved that there was the need to (i) act on sharing knowledge on policy issues, (ii) ensure more Regional collaboration, and (iii) establish a global network for sharing ideas and knowledge.

A presentation of Int FRIBA (RIBA International/Honorary Fellowships) also took place on the 12th February. The RIBA has throughout its history honoured men and women who have made a major contribution to the world of design and architecture. Any architect outside the United Kingdom who is not a UK citizen, and who has a demonstrable interest in the objectives of the RIBA and exhibits distinction and a breadth of contribution to architecture, may be elected an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The lifetime honour, conferred annually, was this year conferred on six recipients.

The RIBA also awards RIBA Honorary Fellowships, to acknowledge the contributions made by the recipients to architecture in its broadest sense, its promotion, administration and outreach, its role in building more sustainable communities, and its role in the education of future generations. This year nine recipients received the award.

RIBA Fellow Member status is awarded to inspiring RIBA members who represent the diversity, talent, and dynamism of architecture and the built environment. The attributes that lie at the heart of RIBA Fellow Membership are positive contributions to architecture, from working with poorer communities, to designing infrastructure abroad, and the desire to support, influence and affect change. Eight recipients received this annual honour this year.

As part of the celebrations of the 2019 Royal Gold Medal, the RIBA Education department hosted the RIBA President’s Medals Student Crit 2019. Since 2006, the RIBA has organised a Critique (Crit) event where the winners of the President’s Medals present their award-winning work to a panel of experts comprising the Royal Gold Medallist as a guest of honour. The intention of this annual event has been to bring together the RIBA’s oldest awards in a celebration of past, present and future architectural talent, with an expert panel using their experience and expertise to critique the award-winning work produced by the President’s Medallists.

The recipients of the RIBA President’s Medals during the Student Crit

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PR 02/19 | Affordable Housing Benefit

Verzjoni bil-Malti

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti notes with satisfaction that one of its recommendations in its consultation reply on the Rent Reform White Paper has been introduced earlier this afternoon by Minister Edward Scicluna and Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes. The Kamra tal-Periti had published its consultation feedback on 30th November 2018, and put forward several recommendations and observations, including the conversion of rent subsidies into a housing allowance similar to the British housing benefit.

It had also recommended, however, that Government should keep in mind the risk that increasing liquidity in the rental market coupled with sustained population growth would result in further inflationary pressures. In the Kamra’s view, therefore, it is imperative that Government monitor closely the effects of this reform on the rental market on a continuous basis to be able to calibrate the balance between affordability and rent inflation.

Nevertheless, this measure alone will not address the problems of housing affordability. The Kamra tal-Periti looks forward to meeting with the Hon Roderick Galdes in the very near future to discuss in greater detail its other proposals on advancing affordability in the rental market.

 

 

Final Address by Professor Alex Torpiano as President

My two-year term as President of the Kamra tal-Periti has come to an end. In my address, I will report on what I consider the successes, and also on some failures, of my tenure. I must report on the absolutely positive support that I had from the Council throughout these last two years. The Council has worked very hard, and the level of participation of all members of the Council, particularly over this last year, has been very high.

As I reported last year, the Council has tried to meet every two weeks, except for the summer period, totalling about 22 Council Meetings. This excludes meetings that were held with the many official entities we need to interface with, including the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market, The Executive Chairman of the Planning Authority, the head of the Building Regulations Office, the Chairman BICC, the Chairman CRPD, ERA, Civil Protection, the Land Registry and Lands Authority.

The Council also participated actively in the many consultation documents that were published by Government over the year, notably the proposal for the Malta Building and Construction Authority, and the White Paper on the Regulation of the Rental Market.

 

Premju E.L.Galizia

For me, the highlight of this past year was the successful launch of the first edition of the Premju E.L.Galizia, with the culmination of the awards in the Gala Dinner held last June. In my report at the last AGM, I had mentioned the Council’s intention to launch the Design Award scheme. At that stage, we had already completed a considerable amount of ground work, including the branding and name of the award, the design of the trophies, and the outline of the award categories we wished to include. But a considerable amount of work remained to realise this ambition, not least to chase sponsors to support the event, to organise the jury sessions, and of course to organise the gala dinner. Much more work than we envisaged! The event was also a considerable financial risk, but, thanks to the very hard work, especially of the sub-committee entrusted with the organisation, led by Andre’ Pizzuto, and including Lara Mifsud, Jeanette Abela, Ivynne Grixti, Sandro Cini, and Alberto Miceli, we pulled it off. The success of the event was reflected in the many positive messages we received from you, but also from the response of the general public and the media.  One of the most satisfying parts of the event, for me, was the social interaction between colleagues and competitors during the public presentation sessions at the Casino Maltese.

We have already started to work on the second edition, beginning with the Student Awards for Final Projects and Dissertations, which will continue over January and February of 2019, and, later the senior awards, and the Gala Dinner.

 

Website and Social Media

Another important success over the last two years has been the complete overhaul of the KTP website, and the further development of the Kamra’s social media. We have more plans for the Kamra’s website, so that we can further enhance the usefulness of this asset to our members, and to the public. Once again, I have to mention Andre Pizzuto’s efforts not only in piloting the design of the web-site, but also in persevering to resolve the complicated situation that the on-line payment of memberships via Paypal had created because of a defaulting contractor.

 

Professional Conduct

Last year, I reported that the Council had attacked, with determination, the big backlog of professional conduct cases that had remained unresolved for a number of years. Over the past year, we have continued with this important role, a role that is also difficult, often unpleasant, and rather thankless. Some colleagues do not like us for carrying out this role, and sometimes react negatively to our requests for clarifications. However, it must be understood that allegations about professional misconduct cannot be ignored, for the sake of the profession as a whole, but not least for the sake of the perit against whom the allegations are made. Of course, it follows that, where the allegations are proven to be true, the Council must then discipline that member, otherwise the whole process would not be credible.

Ironically, the cases that are easiest to resolve are those ethical issues that arise between colleague periti, because, in general, we find that periti understand that some mechanism of internal ethical regulation is of benefit to all periti. The issues that arise between periti and members of the public are often more difficult. In many instances, the complaints are not, strictly speaking, about unethical behaviour, but about the perception that periti have charged too much for their services, or that the service provided was not of the appropriate level.

In this context, I have to remind you once again that it is no longer possible to assume that Tariff K automatically regulates the fees payable for our services. The Law requires a signed agreement about fees, before the services are carried out. I therefore urge you to ensure that your clients are perfectly clear about the services that you will offer, and the relative remuneration that will be charged, and the stages of payment. Unfortunately, European Union legislation forbids any form of fee guidance, which might be interpreted as a limitation on free competition. I personally do not agree with this prohibition, not least because our experience is that members of the public regularly contact us to seek guidance about what the appropriate level of fees should be. We have set up a Sub-Committee to work on some form of guidance for consumers – which, we think, will not run foul of EU legislation. But the work of the Sub-Committee is complex, and not yet concluded.

One other aspect of professional ethical behaviour is that related to the advertising of our services. Advertising can range from a Facebook page to direct soliciting by letters to potential clients. Clearly these two extremes are not the same, from the ethical point of view. Forbidding any form of advertising, particularly in this age of social media and digital communication is effectively impossible – it is also contrary to the EC Directive on Services. The Council feels that an update of rules governing advertising and publicity is required, and a motion will be presented during this meeting for discussion.

 

Building Regulations and Standards

The Council spent a couple of years trying hard to convince Government that combining Building Regulations with Planning Authority processes was wrong, and would lead to confusion. In 2018, it was clear that our arguments had finally been accepted, and although the amended Development Planning Act still envisages the absorption of Building Regulation functions within the Planning Authority, this part of the Law has not been promulgated, and as far as we understand, will not be promulgated.

Nevertheless, the situation is far from satisfactory. Malta of 2019 still does not have a proper regime of Building Control, grounded in modern Building Regulations. The primary problem is that whilst the Planning Authority is generously funded, from the rather high fees that are paid by the actors in the construction industry, other entities which are important to the industry, such as the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, and the Building Regulations Office, remain seriously under-resourced.

This past year, we started work on a proposal for a proper Building Regulations framework for Malta, a project that was also spearheaded by Andre Pizzuto. The EGM held a couple of months ago presented the nearly finalised draft of this document, which will be shortly presented to the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market. In the mean time, as you are aware, a proposal was launched by Government to set up the Malta Building and Construction Authority. The Council expressed its support for this proposal, in the hope that it signified a political commitment to, finally, properly resource the Building Regulations Office, in its three main roles, namely that of researching and drafting appropriate Building Regulations, of providing a regulatory/approval process during the construction stage, and maintaining a supervisory and enforcement role after completion of construction. Our support for the proposal for the Malta Building and Construction Authority is qualified by the assumption that the proper support to the relative offices will be forthcoming; otherwise, the exercise would be just another futile one of creating another authority, without any bite.

Last year, I also referred to the issue of training and licensing of operatives. This is another role promised by the MBCA. Unfortunately, progress seems to be painfully slow, and in spite of all the nice words, the industry still labours under a serious lack of operative skills, a lack of proper licensing of operatives, and therefore an overall lack of quality in construction. The current rush to build has not helped; the profession, like developers and politicians, generally seems stuck with its head in the sand.

A number of building collapses have occurred, over this past year, which clearly betray a lack of understanding of basic construction principles by operatives, a serious problem of mis-communication, particularly with foreign operatives; and, I am sorry to say, an almost cavalier attitude by some periti on the issues of safe construction on site. In recent weeks, we have seen a number of accidents on construction sites which have led to fatalities or serious injury. We cannot absolve ourselves from these issues by thinking that health and safety is simply the role of the H&S Supervisors. If nothing else, we have a moral obligation, as experts, to ensure that risks on site are mitigated, and that unsafe construction practices by rogue or inexperienced operatives are not allowed. I really feel that the situation is currently dire.

I also think that the Kamra should launch a system of structural failure reporting, which is not intended to attribute blame, but to establish the causes of failures, so that all the profession could learn from such experiences. This system has been in place for some years in the UK, for example, and it has proved to be a very useful tool for the profession.

 

FEANI

FEANI is a Europe-wide organisation of national organisations of engineering professions, which offers its accredited members the use of the title Eur.Ing.. The Eur.Ing title is not a European Commission engineering title, but, nevertheless, it carries considerable clout in many European countries. FEANI in Malta was, from its inception, monopolised by the Chamber of Engineers, in the sense that the Kamra did not have any formal representation on the National Monitoring Committee, in spite of the fact that we represent Civil Engineers in Malta. This year we reached an agreement with the Chamber of Engineers to address this anomaly. A national committee, with representatives from both the Chamber of Engineers and the Kamra has now been set up, under the title Inġiniera Malta, to represent the engineering profession within FEANI.

 

Wirtna – Our Legacy

Last year, I had talked about increasing concern with the impact that certain Planning Authority policies, or, perhaps, I should say, “interpretation of policies” was having on the built heritage of our country. I had also talked about my belief that as professionals we had a moral obligation to ensure that the built heritage assets of our country are not ruined, not even if allowed by “policy”, or demanded by our clients. The Council had taken note of the fact that there were many NGOs, scattered all over the islands, formed by people who were concerned about what was happening to our urban heritage and environment, but that these NGOs did not have the clout that, say, the development lobby has with politicians and the Planning Authority. The Council took the initiative to invite these NGOs, including Din l-Art Helwa and Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar, to form a loose alliance so that we could speak with a strong unified voice about our concerns. This was not an easy task, but in April 2018, we held a public event, under the slogan of Wirtna – Our Legacy, when a Declaration was signed by 23 entities involved in heritage management or protection, asking for changes in attitude by Government and the construction industry in general. The event was very well received by the public and the media. We strove to create a cross-party platform so that heritage protection would not be caught in the mesh of partisan politics. We were not completely successful in this; although we quickly received support from opposition political parties, it took us some time to be able to arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister, and Ministers Borg and Bonnici, to be able to discuss the issues of concern. Nevertheless, the meeting did eventually happen, and we did obtain a commitment from Government to consider some of the key proposals in our Declaration. We will all need to continue to work to convince politicians that current legislation and planning policies do not offer sufficient protection for our built heritage – and unfortunately, much of what we are offering instead of the heritage buildings  we are demolishing is plain ugly. No excuses, there, the ugliness that we are seeing around us is also our doing.

One of the outcomes of the collaboration with these NGOs was a court case launched against the Planning Authority for violating its own regulations in the case of the demolition of the ex-Sea Malta/ex-NAAFI building, and for ignoring the Ombudsman’s condemnation of the actions of the Planning Authority; the case is ongoing.

 

Planning Authority

Unfortunately, our relationship with Planning Authority has not improved over the last year. I wish to thank Simone Vella Lenicker for her diligent work on all issues related to the Planning Authority, not least her participation on the revived (but not reinvigorated) Users Committee. We had occasion to, once again, complain about the Planning Authority’s idea of consultation.

Although periti are the Planning Authority’s most consistent “clients”, the situation persists that we find out about changes in policy either when they are launched – such as, for example, in the recent scheme for the Restoration of Balconies for the Marsamxett area – or, by accident – such as the recent discovery (if this is what it is) that contrary to what is written in the PA documents, there is no need for a Commencement Notice for DNO’s.

We had discussions with the Planning Authority on how to solve the problem of “change of periti” procedures when a perit passes away; we still have not managed to get PA to engage with the solutions that we thought we had agreed on. We also continued to raise with the PA the sore issue of CTB’s. We made representations, even at political level, on the unfairness of how CTB’s were being interpreted; and we pressed the Planning Authority to issue clear guidelines of how to resolve the issues that were arising. We are still waiting for the agreed clarifications to be published. We still have unresolved issues about the Commencement Notices, and also on the way Planning Permit Conditions are drafted – nowadays planning conditions are like an encyclopaedia, covering every topic, but providing little holistic overview.

 

Periti Act

Three years ago, I returned to the Council with the primary objective to help pilot the new Periti Act through to approval. We have not yet reached this target, even though we have been talking for about 10 years. I do not know what else to say about it. The draft has long been agreed with the European Commission – in so far as the infringements that had been flagged are concerned. Negotiations with the Government side were concluded some time ago. I spoke extensively on the objectives of the amendments to the Periti Act in my 2017 AGM speech, so I will not add much today.

I can advise, however, that in November 2018 we finally met Minister Borg to try to understand his apparent reluctance to present the amended Periti Act to Cabinet, and then to Parliament. Our understanding is that the main sticking point was the Minister’s reluctance to agree to our proposals about the Professional Conduct Board, appointed by the Council, but independent of it. During this meeting, we had the opportunity to propose to him the mechanism which I had outlined as our preferred mechanism, during my 2017 AGM speech.

In summary, the system we have proposed is for Council to appoint a Professional Conduct Board comprising a pool of not less than six periti, who have held their warrant for at least 18 years, under the chairmanship of a retired judge or from among persons who have been qualified to be recommended for appointment as judges in Malta, selected by the Minister in agreement with the Kamra. Four members from this pool would be selected by the Chairman during the determination of a specific case, to ensure that there is no possibility or perception of potential conflicts of interest. In this proposed system, the KTP Council would receive any allegations of professional misconduct, and make preliminary investigations on whether the allegations represented prima facie potential professional misconduct; and would then proceed to submit the investigations to the Professional Conduct Board for determination, independently of the Council. In our meeting, the Minister appeared inclined to accept this proposal.

At this stage, I have to report to the AGM, that in his discussions with us, the Minister referred to consultations he was having, on the subject of the Periti Act, with a group of some 20/25 periti, that had been invited by the MDA to form a discussion group under its aegis. As you can expect, I did not hesitate to point out that the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti is the only entity empowered by Law to speak in the name of the profession, and that, frankly, the opinion of these periti had no relevance in the discussions between Government and the Kamra. It is, however, disappointing, to say the least, to observe that periti could be ready to undermine their own colleagues, and the organisation that their colleagues elect to represent them, by accepting to offer their opinions to the Minister directly, instead of sharing such opinions with their colleagues, in the many General Meetings held to discuss the topic, over the years. Nonetheless, they seem to feel that they have the right to speak to Government in your name.

 

Future

At the end of my second term, I want to conclude with more positive things, particularly about the future work that needs to be addressed by the new Council. There are still difficult issues of liability and professional indemnity to resolve, particularly for those professionals who, under a contract of employment, with, say, design-and-build contractors, take on personal professional liability in terms of the law, but are not covered by professional indemnity insurance when they move from that employment to another one. As soon as the amended Periti Act is approved, we will have to prepare a raft of subsidiary regulations which will cover the detail of aspects of the Act, including, for example, the procedures by which a limited liability company, not owned by periti, could offer periti services, as long as the perit or periti assuming professional liability were clearly indicated in the literature of that company. We need to work on a proper syllabus for the professional experience that we ask our graduates to undertake before submitting to the Warrant examination process. We will need to work on a CPD framework, to ensure that our professionals remain up-to-date with current industry developments.

One idea that arose from a recent Design-related Workshop we held in October is that the Kamra should set up some form of Design Review Panel, which could support periti in their dealings with the Planning Authority, particularly when they had difficulties in getting high-quality contemporary architectural designs accepted by regulatory boards, which are misguidedly conservative. This is in fact an old idea that the Kamra had proposed some years ago to government to include within planning legislation. Unfortunately, that idea was distorted into the Design Advisory Committee envisaged in the Development Planning Act, which we do not feel fulfills the role that was originally envisaged in an appropriate manner.

You will have received the December issue of the Architect, which focused on the Premju E.L. Galizia. In our plans, this will be the last issue of the journal in this format. We are thinking of developing an on-line journal, which could, in a more timely fashion, report on current affairs, and converting the journal to a quarterly issue, focused on selected themes. I hope that we will also complete the transformation by changing the name, into one which more correctly represents the breadth of our profession.

These changes will be launched in 2019. The Architects’ Ordnance, which set up the first Camera degli Architetti, was promulgated in June 1919, and the first Chamber formally constituted about a year ater. Therefore mid-2019 to mid-2020 will represent our 100th Anniversary; and the new Council will be launching a series of special events to mark this important mile-stone in the history of our profession and of our Kamra.  These event will include, for example, meetings of European entities we participate in, such as ENACA and ECCE, in Malta, over this period. I sincerely hope that this Anniversary will see the profession achieve many of the things I have spoken about today.

I would like to conclude by thanking, once again, the members of the Council I had the honour of leading, for their support and commitment, starting from Simone Vella Lenicker, who, I am convinced, will make an excellent new President to the Council, Andre Pizzuto, who we have nominated for Vice-President, Amber Wismayer, who continued to contribute to the Council even as her doctoral studies demanded more of her time, Lara Mifsud, Jeanette Abela, Sandro Cini, Ivynne Grixti, Alberto Miceli, Damien Vella Lenicker, and Toni Bezzina – as well as Saviour Borg, who diligently acts as secretary in our Board Meetings, and Tony Cassar who is our evergreen Office Administrator. There are many others who have contributed to the Council’s work, whom I hesitate to mention for fear of leaving out anybody. Keep in mind, however, that the work of the Kamra cannot be undertaken solely by the eleven members of Council. If we wish, as I do, the profession to remain relevant to the industry, it is important for us to take part in the various committees and fora where our opinions can be expressed, be it BICC, or BRB, or ACE, or ECCE, or MFPA, or the Warranting Board, or UIA, or FEANI, or PA Users Committee, or the various working groups that we get invited to. The reports of the various representatives can be read on the KTP web-site.

 

Finally, I want to conclude by thanking you all for supporting me over these last two years. It has been an honour to represent you.

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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.