Thursday, May 21, 2015
Empty and Neglected properties in Sliema
Alfred Gauci Tonna
The Times of Malta, 19 May 2015
Sliema easily takes its place as one of the nicest places in Malta and second after St Paul’s Bay with the most vacant dwellings.
This is a pity as most of these buildings are crumbling to disrepair, without any sign of them being sold or at least rented, as that way they might get a fresh coat of paint on their façade, door and window.
The first thing that indicates a house is empty and neglected is when careless people start depositing their garbage bags on the vacant property’s door step. Besides creating an eyesore, they are a menace to adjacent properties, also affecting their value, as they can easily be used to enter other properties, attracting vandals and other abuse.
In Amsterdam, if an empty property is taken over by squatters, it’s illegal for the owners to evict them. It would be unfair on the owners to implement that law here, but it’s also unfair on the environment and the neighbours to face derelict buildings, sticking out like sore thumbs year in year out.
On the other hand the authorities should make sure the courts speed up cases concerning vacant properties and make it illegal for a few owners to disagree in concluding the sale of such properties. If the majority of owners inheriting the property agree to sell, the others must abide. Whenever I see tourists looking at unoccupied houses, they all say the same thing: “What a shame, why are all these new apartments being built up, when there are so many empty houses lying around?”
Two new laws are needed to reduce the number of empty buildings in Malta. One would be thecreation of an empty-property tax and the second would be the imposition of a stipulated number of years that a building may stay vacant.