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Landlords urge change to rent control in bid to unlock town potential

The Gibraltar Landlord Association is looking to have rental laws changed in Gibraltar, adding that there is currently a “50-year old law that is killing the upper town.”

The association is calling for a “quick and measured response” to the rent control issue and said this is “crucial in unlocking the great potential of the town and upper town areas”.

The association hopes for a modernisation of the current Housing Act while also looking at setting up a register of service providers and landlords.

The association said all landlords face the “same practical, regulatory and legal problems”, and by pooling years of experience, it is creating a platform to better navigate these challenges.

Rodney Perera, who is part of the association, said members have held a number of meetings with the Minister for Housing, Samantha Sacramento, and it is now ready to go public.

The Gibraltar Landlord Association was set up to service “the needs and interests of landlords” while also being of benefits to others involved in the real estate industry including home owners, tenants, service providers and local authorities.

The issue with the local rental market was brought to light in a debate in GBC’s Viewpoint a few months ago.

Mr Perera said the association’s aim is to try and find a balance with what is happening with the rental market in Gibraltar.

“After all, we believe that we are subsidising government by providing our houses for low rental income and they in turn want us to spend thousands of pounds to upkeep those properties which are not profitable,” Mr Perera told the Chronicle.

He highlighted the issue with rent-control properties which fall under legislation that has remained unchanged for the past 50 years.

Mr Perera said most of the properties are rent-controlled and some tenants pay as little as £25 a month, with the average rental bringing in £100 a month.

“These are old properties and with that level of income we cannot do anything,” Mr Perera added.

“By the time we pay the rate and normal upkeep, they are collapsing.”

“We are not allowed to regenerate and we are not getting the money to invest in our buildings and the town area is just falling to bits.”

There are over 40 members in the Landlord Association who look out for more than 1,000 properties in Gibraltar.

It is hoping to work closely with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, the Environmental Agency, Town Planning and Action for Housing.

Meanwhile it has highlighted the main issues with the Government as well as potential solutions it sees fit.

“We are hoping for something that is fair and something where we can upkeep our properties but get a decent return for them which will allow us to reinvest in our properties,” Mr Perera said.

“At the moment we cannot and our hands are totally tied.”