Since the liberalisation of the private rental market in 1995, Maltese law has relied on the assumption that the landlord and the tenant are two free and equal contracting parties to an ordinary bilateral agreement. Whilst this might appear true in theory, actual practices and experiences reveal a number of difficulties that hinder tenants from safeguarding their interests. This study evaluates whether there exists a balance in practice, and this from the first moment tenants approach an estate agent to identify a property to rent, to the time when they assess the price, the quality of the property and the correct form of the agreement, and ultimately when utility bills come to be settled. It indicates that neither the current legislation nor the policies in place provide tenants with the necessary guarantees in terms of knowledge and transparency, to empower them to negotiate from a position of equality.
Kurt Xerri is a resident academic within the Department of Civil Law at the Faculty of Laws of the University of Malta. He received his Doctor of Laws and his Master of Arts in Law degrees from the University of Malta in 2013 and 2014 respectively. In 2017, he successfully defended his PhD thesis on the regulation of the private rented sector at the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain.