Housing

Malta

Country Report: Housing Last updated: 19/05/21

Author

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The main form of accommodation provided is access to reception centres which are the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa, Hal Far Tent Village, Hal Far Open Centre, Hal Far Hangar. Two centres are especially dedicated to host minors and women and provide for smaller types of accommodation, namely Dar il -Liedna and Balzan Open Centre. However, in the current context of a reception system which is at full capacity, beneficiaries of international protection are not allowed to stay in reception centres in 2020. Exceptions can be made for vulnerable persons and families but on a case-by-case basis.

Refugees are entitled to apply to the Maltese Housing Authority program for alternative accommodation known as “Government Units for Rent”, provided they have been residing in Malta for 12 months and have limited income and assets. Refugees are also entitled to all of the schemes that the Housing Authority offer, such as a rent subsidy scheme.

A study carried out among the migrant community in Malta (asylum-seekers and beneficiaries of international protection) evidenced that housing remains an issue for such populations as rental prices have increased greatly over the past few years. Most of the people interrogated for the survey qualified housing costs as a burden. Moreover, problems such as shortage of space and lack of light are common as the overall quality of the dwellings rented by the migrant population is usually poor and/or their size is not suited for the number of individuals living in them.[1]

In 2017, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights raised the issue of access to housing in correspondence with the Ministry for Home Affairs.[2] This problem persisted throughout 2018, 2019, and even more in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, with NGOs working in the social sector commenting that access to private accommodation was increasingly challenging for several groups, including migrants and beneficiaries of international protection, resulting in higher numbers of homeless persons or of persons living in squalid conditions.[3]

In April 2020, 41 NGOs issued a press statement urging the authorities about the immediate and urgent need for shelter. They stated that they were receiving numerous alerts of people about to be evicted for not being able to pay their rent. They stressed that most people, especially the migrant population, might not be able to rely on the Government’s support packages or simply not be aware of it. They added that community or NGO’s initiatives are not enough to meet the escalating demand for assistance. They urged the authorities to implement an emergency food and shelter initiative.[4]

Following the press release, the Ministry for Social Accommodation engaged in a dialogue with NGOs. They indicated that evictions are strictly regulated, and all cases should be referred to the Housing Authority to verify such evictions are legal. They also announced that people struggling to pay rent may apply for housing benefit which was increased due to Covid-19.[5]

[1] aditus foundation and JRS Malta, Struggling to survive, an investigation into the risk of poverty among asylum seekers in Malta, January 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2kVtuRz.

[2] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to the Minister for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement of Malta, CommHR/NM/sf 043-2017, 14 December 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2o5Bwr6.

[3] Times of Malta, ‘Number of officially homeless in Malta is “not a reality”’, 6 October 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2SPEsJV.

[4] Joint NGO Press Release, ‘An immediate food and shelter initiative is urgently needed!’, 3 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3rkSjoZ.

[5]  Information provided by aditus foundation, 2021.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation