Some of the people around me tell me that they don’t like the 2020 Residential Leases Act. They tell me that I shouldn’t tar all landlords with the same brush. They tell me that I’ve only ever been involved in advocating for tenant rights because I want revenge on all landlords.
They attribute huge powers to me, the power to change things dramatically all on my ownsome. When in reality I am but a cog in a wheel of other activists, who, like me, are driven to fix what’s broken. It took an army of good people to bring about the 2020 Residential Leases Act, for example.
It’s upsetting because it reveals how little they have understood me and my motivation. When I experience an injustice, I want to see that injustice put right for everyone. Nothing less will satisfy me. Man-made injustices should be easy to put right. In most developed countries, various systems have evolved to make sure that people have a means of achieving this in a timely and efficient manner.
I will not be happy with solving a problem just for myself and my family. This is what the people around me cannot quite understand. Why should I not fight for all mobile teachers to have justice? Why should I not continue to fight for tenant rights even though we stopped being tenants in April 2016? What is life for if not to do the best you can with all you’ve got? To fix things? To make things better for everyone and not just your own nuclear family?
All the trauma of our experiences as tenants – the precautionary garnishee orders, the near homelessness, the 300 euro per month that our family of 5 was meant to live on after rent and Arms bills on the incorrect tariff, the malpractice of Arms - the sole, state owned utility billing company, the stress and anxiety all those years, the horror stories experienced by the thousands of tenants in my tenant support group, my own Teacher of Physics from the 80s on a lesser salary than mine because she was a Malta mobile teacher…
Life isn’t about money. People pay lip service to this but when push comes to shove, landlords will be angry with you for playing a part in stopping the free for all that counted for our private rental market post 1995. Some members of the traffic police force will be angry with the whistleblower for blowing the whistle on their colleagues’ abuse of power and corruption. Some people will be angry with a journalist who revealed the abuse of power and corruption of politicians or those who should be of exemplary example to us all.
The sad truth is that we get the government the majority of us want to get. Yes, people may tell you that they don’t like the corrupt government, the zero checks and balances, the assassination of a journalist. But if having a corrupt government means making a killing off renting your extra properties with not much responsibility and with the system completely skewed against the tenant, then that’s all right folks.
It’s a sad indictment of the current state of humanity. Whatever happened to the collective? To the solidarity? Surely if one of us is hurt, then we are all hurt? It’s also very myopic. Malta, the world... cannot continue with this individualistic attitude. It’s simply not sustainable. Something is going to have to give.