Prime Minister Robert Abela has poured cold water on the government possibly intervening to address growing concerns over rental expenses from both residents and businesses ahead of an incoming global recession caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
While stressing that government will not meddle in private agreements, he urged all landlords to show some decency and reasonableness with their current tenants.
“They have to think in the long term, they can chuck them out but that business won’t be there when the economy is up and running again,” he told Lovin Malta.
Residents and small business owners who previously spoke to Lovin Malta had raised concerns that a major drop in income will mean that we will be unable to meet many expenses. Rent was their biggest concern.
The Housing Authority has previously told Lovin Malta that the Private Rent Housing Benefit Scheme, which helps people meet their rental fees, will now be extended to employees and self-employed individuals who find themselves out of work.
It can also potentially apply to small business owners. If they can produce a VAT number and show that their shop or business has been closed due to the latest measures, the Housing Authority will deem their situation a ‘no-income’ scenario.
However, small business who haven’t yet reached a no-income scenario but are struggling to make ends meet are growing more and more worried.
The government so far has offered them around 160 euro per month to help cover their employees’ wages. Beyond tax referrals, the measures seem to fail to address small businesses who could face major redundancies within a few weeks or months.
With single rooms renting out for €400 a month and commercial premises at a much higher rate, it’s easy to see why.