What do the landlords mean by a 'measured response'?

Dear Sir,

We have read with some interest the declaration of the newly formed Gibraltar Landlord Association whose main aim appears to be that of bringing about a “quick and measured” response to the issue of “Rent Control”. We wonder what they mean by a “measured response”? 

We appreciate the landlords’ predicament in not being able to bear the cost of expensive repairs to their properties when the rent paid by tenants is low. However, doing away with rent control and allowing market prices to determine the cost of rents would place many tenants in an impossible financial situation. Most Landlords are aware of this. Many tenants would simply be unable to pay current “market rents” eventually defaulting with their payments and ultimately being legally evicted from their homes. There is currently no Government provision that helps tenants facing this dilemma. The only “Government Rent Relief” in place at present for “private sector tenants” is only available to those tenants who pay “Controlled Rents” and whose circumstances prevent them from having enough means to pay their rent.

Neither is the issue of “Rent Control” new to Gibraltar. In 1955 the then Governor of Gibraltar set up a committee to look into the question of “Rent Control”. This also looked at local Housing Stock including the private sector and the cost of maintaining and repairing properties. It was a detailed and wide-ranging report and covered most if not all aspect of “Housing” in Gibraltar.

On part 11 of this report the issue of “Privately owned Housing” is covered under the heading of “Policy” states “……We have examined the position of privately-owned houses under the provisions of the “Rent Restriction Ordinance”. As a result of our deliberations we have decided that it is desirable as an aim of policy to bring to an end eventually the provision of Part 11 of the said Ordinance. We cannot however, recommend the repeal of the said provision either immediately or within a short term of years as we are of the opinion that, notwithstanding the desirability of decontrol in principle, the practical effect of decontrolling houses in the special circumstances of Gibraltar with its increased population and lack of sufficient accommodation would be catastrophic”.

It is regrettable that 64 years later the issue of ”Rent-Control” in the private sector remains unresolved.

In their article the Gibraltar Landlord Association say that they hope to work closely with entities and bodies involved in this issue, and they mention Action for Housing. We welcome the invitation to work with them. We believe that it is through dialogue that we can understand each other and explore ways of addressing and ultimately solving this very long-standing and complex issue. With one proviso. Much the same as the Gibraltar Landlords Association will look after the interests of Landlords’ we at Action for Housing will do no less for the tenants.

Henry Pinna,

Action for Housing