Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Right to Live in a Decent Home

During the last few months, my sweetheart and I embarked on a plan to buy an apartment for ouselves. We have been living in rented places for a very long time and given the fact that I will be 30 next year, it was decided that buying would be the best option for us. How little we knew about the countless hardships involved in the process!

After identifying a beautiful three-bedroom apartment in Ta' Xbiex, we decided to go to the bank to see how much we could get as a mortgage. The owner was willing to sell us the place for Lm50,000. All those people who have never been engaged in the purchase of property should realise that the property cost price is the starting point of one's expenses. On top of that, one must add the notary fees, bank fees, etc. The bank usually gives a loan amounting to 90% of the property's cost price; the remaining 10% should be forked out of the pocket of the person interested in buying. This 10% is normally referred to as the deposit. When talking about a property that costs Lm50,000, the amount of money that the purchasing party would need to come up with is Lm5,000!!!

Over the last few years, given our particular circumstances, it was not possible to save any money. There was a fairly long period of time during which my sweetheart was unable to work since she was not an EU citizen and we were not married. The dependence on one salary crucified us; I often had to ask one of my colleagues at work to lend me some money in order to make it to the end of the month! By the way, my sweetie and I do not smoke or drink heavily, meaning that we never spent any money on such things.

Things have changed a great deal since then. My partner and I are now married and we are both working in the financial services sector, which is said to be one of the fastest-growing areas in Malta. Having said this, in spite of having two salaries, it has never been possible to put aside a considerable amount of money. When we went to the bank, it became extremely clear that unless we were going to receive some help, it was not going to be possible to get the desired mortgage. We were short by a few thousand pounds! We eventually managed to obtain the mortgage plus the money required to cover most of the additional fees by begging a close relative for a guarantee!

Although we were very happy when the bank issued the sanction letter, we soon realised that the expenses were far from over. While still at the bank, both of us were taken to a room to talk to a financial officer about the insurance policies that would have to be purchased as part of the process. We will be paying the premiums later on this year given that they are relatively expensive!

We should be moving to the new apartment in April. At the moment, we are still paying rent (Lm250 per month) to our landlady in Sliema. Before signing the convenue, we seriously believed that we could just give notice to our landlady and she would allow us to leave. That was not the case. She informed us that our rental agreement binds us to pay rent until the end of he contract (October 2008). While talking to her on the phone, she kept insisting that she already has commitments related to our rent money; she needs to keep sending her daughter to guitar, karate, and ballet lessons!!! Yes, we were foolish to think that she would show any mercy towards us, but the bottom line is that unless we manage to find somebody to start renting the Sliema apartment as soon as possible, we will have to continue paying her Lm250 every month until October!!!

The whole situation makes me want to scream! I still find it so hard to believe that one should undergo so much pain in order to have a decent home! I am quite sure that there are many other people out there who believe that all human beings should have the right to live in a decent home without having to pay a cent! A true Socialist government would ensure that every person would be able to live in a decent home for free. That is why every country in the world needs such a government!



La delirante said...

"we soon realised that the expenses were far from over" Oh, yes, I am afraid they are. We still need to get the appliances and more fees are coming probably. Anyway, we'll make it so don't worry :)

BTW, for people not to have the wrong idea, we are paying that huge amount of money in rent because we don't have a car so at the end of the day, we could have been paying 120 LM for a flat in Buggiba but the bus fare for both of us everyday would have ended up in approximately 250 LM a month. I think that perhaps you should add a note on your post re this :)


Reuben Chircop said...

Hi Dave,

I totally understand your situation and believe me going to the bank sometimes really does not help, I mean they all greet you with a smile then when they start touching the calculator then they stop smiling and give you the plain reality in your face.

Well we have gone through all the process but at the end its worth it . What I do value is that as you said not everyone affords this necessity so I just consider myself lucky that my childhood gave me the opportunity to learn and grow, but even so through the hard work of my parents and myself this could not have materialized. Equal opportunities is an easy word but when one gets down to it, things start to complicate.

good luck on your new home. I am sorry that your land lady is so blind to make you waste money to keep her young kid for "ballet", this really shows how people have lost their values today.

Reuben Chircop said...

by the way , this is Dali right

Glenn Gerald said...

Biex ikollok fejn tighx, xi haga mill-aktar bazika, illum il-gurnata trid tonfoq l-eluf ta' l-euros u tidhol ghal xeba stress,xi haga li qed twassal lil hafna koppji f'sitwazzjonijiet ta' disprament! Affarjit li meta taghddi minnhom zgur li ma thossokx qed tighx f'xi 'smart island'!!!
Kuragg Dav.
Kuragg Wen.

L-Imżebbel said...

Ħeqq sieħeb... dak li jġib is-suq ħieles t'għajni! Madankollu, jiena nħossni pjuttost xettiku dwar il-proposta tal-MLP li jagħti għotja lill-koppji. Wisq nibża' li din se tkun mossa kompromettenti se tħadem b'mod kontro-produċenti.

dwardu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dwardu said...

Red, Lm250 is a lot for a flat in Sliema! I pay Lm85, although I must admit that I was lucky to find this good deal. However, I have lived in a small, but nevertheless good, flat in Sliema for Lm120, and also in a house in Valletta for Lm120.

Carin said...

Heh I am sorry for both of you but a contract is a contract. At least here in Holland. So the lady is right to claim the rent till the end of the contract.

If your income is sufficient here in Holland a full mortgage is no problem nowadays. It is even possible to get some more to cover the costs that go with buying a house. The government stimulates buying a house by allowing the rent paid over the mortgage being used to lower the income tax.

Funny both of you working in the financial services sector and not knowing all these things. You must have followed a financial education to get there. At least all this stuff and more is part of the financial studies I follow at the moment.

Still I hope you manage and have fun and I wouldn't opt for a socialist government on those grounds.

La delirante said...


"a full mortgage is no problem nowadays". As you said, in Holland perhaps not here. We are getting one but just because someone put two guarantees for us.

Yes, we both work in the financial services sector. I work in mortgages actually! So, I think I know what our position and what our real options are...don't patronize me...

Yes, a contract is a contract and business people are business people. That is very clear to me.

Red said...

Ok, time to give some feedback here... :)

Reuben: I totally agree with the points you mentioned in your contribution. By the way, the painting is known as "The Scream" and the artist's name is Edvard Munch.

Glenn: Grazzi hafna tal-kummenti tieghek! Se jkollna bzonn hafna kuragg issa li se jkollna dejn enormi marbut maghna bhal katina ghal numru kbir ta' snin! :) Hija haga skandaluza li biex persuna jkollha saqaf dicenti u stabbli fuq rasha, trid tghaddi minn dan il-martirju ekonomiku. Jiena ghandi hbieb li kienu jghixu fl-Unjoni Sovjetika u kollha jghidulek li kull familja kienet tinghata dar BI DRITT u li din id-dar kienet tinghata b'xejn! Dak huwa l-vera socjalizmu li ghandna bzonn naraw f'dan il-pajjiz u fil-bqija tad-dinja!

L-Imzebbel: L-affarijiet li ghedt lil Glenn jghoddu wkoll hawn.

Dwardu: We had lived in cheaper places in the past, but they were either way too small and limited for our needs or in such a terrible state that life was fairly hard in them. We had spent a few months living in a nice apartment in Gzira; the rent was only Lm100 per month. Yet, the washing machine was terribly lousy, meaning that we had to take our clothes to a laundry. The fridge/freezer was a joke; apart from the small size of the freezer, it never cooled meats sufficiently to allow them to remain there without rotting after a day or two! The electricity and water bills were calculated according to a system that the renting company had devised. Thus, apart from the Lm100 that we used to pay every month in rent, we used to spend around Lm25 per month on water and electricity!

Carin: How on Earth could you compare Malta to Holland? Don't you know that many foreign companies come to invest in Malta because of the relatively low salaries that are paid here??? Yes, we both work in the financial services industry and we both know that when we combined our incomes, we still did NOT have enough money to enable the bank to give us the entire sum we needed to buy the desired apartment! Living in a capitalist country, even though we might study about insurance and loans, we are not informed about the ways in which employers cut down on costs by paying most of their employees a miserable salary! As far as the landlady is concerned, it is true that there is a contract. Yet, this is where a capitalist person is different from a socialist one; the former is obsessed with money and wants it no matter what whereas the socialist will be concerned about the other person's welfare and avoid turning money into a god! A socialist believes in mercy; not in greed and excessive individualism! And that is why this country needs to move towards Socialism as soon as possible!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL, Carin is funny, comparing Malta and Holland! Go back to your books honey.

Carin said...

Excuse me La Delirante I didn't mean to patronize you, sorry if it sounded like that but it seemed to me that you thought the selling price was just it. Sorry if I misunderstood.

Red, yes I know that foreign companies come to invest in your country because of lower salaries. A long time ago, as a teenager, I lived and studied in Malta for nearly 10 years for that very reason.

Thanks for explaining the socialism bit but what I meant was that I don't agree with a government letting people live in a decent home for free. I have been in East Germany not long after the wall came down and I have seen such homes. I didn't envy those people. Besides that I don't think government members lived in such homes as well.

Reading only a few blogs about the Maltese elections it looks as if everything is still as it was long ago.

And Anonymous, anonymous remarks are not taken seriously by me.

La delirante said...

Hi Carin, I have just read the post again. Some bits could have been misleading, yes. Sorry re the patronizing part. I guess I am having a tough day and feeling a bit sensitive. No excuse I know. Sorry again.

Good luck with your studies,

Red said...

Carin: Unlike in capitalist countries, homelessness is considered as illegal in a truly socialist country. With all due respect, your East German experience cannot be said to be representative of the situation in all socialist countries. I have friends who lived in Georgia (former part of the USSR) and I saw photos of the free apartment they had; it was beautiful! It was spacious and furnished.

Both Malta and Holland are capitalist countries. There are people in both countries who are living in terrible conditions in spite of the massive prosperity that capitalism is supposed to bring. I strongly doubt that the MPs in either country live in the type of poverty that certain working class families endure.

Certain rights, such as the right to decent and free housing, should be available to all people since the the absence of such rights do not encourage the construction of a truly peaceful and prosperous society.