Property Hijack

Again within the past few weeks property is making the headlines in the local papers. Again, and for the umpteenth time the issue has nothing to do with "real" estate laws, that is laws encouraging the quality of homes purchased, or incentivising the better upkeep of the enviroment in habitable areas, or improving the protection of home owners from falling prey to rampant illegal construction sites due to ineffective MEPA practices and loopholes.

If real estate legislation is in the headlines, you can bet your last penny that the subject line is property tax, the commercial aspects of the industry, and the creation of more side laws, and therefore more loopholes in the process. A viscious circle solely benefitting accountants no doubt.

To tax a property sale is of course understandable. Everything under the moon is taxed. However the current arguments raging on, see today's Times of Malta (Fenech, Dalli disagree on property tax), remind me of ancient Rome, where it is said that towards the end of the empire, the study of law and oratory had more to do with the the study of exceptions to the rule; directed at anomalies and designed complication rather then to any laws governing the reality of daily life.

There are quite a few crafty developers and businessmen on the island, and I'm not wearing rose tinted glasses yet. Some of these people will evade tax and use diverse mechanisms to do so no matter what. After making life miserable for all and sunder, with the man on the road trying to work out what is owed to the goverment on a one off sale, once the noose is closed tight enough, these predators will simply switch to a different vehicle to play their games leaving everyone else clear the mess.

When is real importance going to be given to the quality of units sold, and a sustainable development around them? When will small construction sites be properly screened off containing the dust and debris from billowing out into neighbouring homes? When will newly built units left in shell form be properly sealed off from the winter and not left humid, wet and cold for months on end, creating misery and dampness for buyers at a later stage?

When will property owners stop breaking into cold sweat when reading articles like this published in the Times 5th. February 2006 ? When will proper care be given to an increase in the real value of property, coming from proper legislation, social laws and sincere urban planning, and not from inflated costs?

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