There is much confusion with regard to which utility tariff should be applied when you rent a property.
Something that should be extremely simple is made extremely complicated. This is more than likely to be intentional because:
- Arms collects more money than it should from tenants living in their primary residences;
- letting agents do not have to broker unpleasant negotiations so, in the main, do not give the necessary information to prospective tenants;
- most landlords do not want to document the presence of rent paying tenants in their so called empty second properties to enable tax evasion on their rental income.
When you look at the breakdown of the three tariffs it is as plain as anything that there are clear rationales behind each tariff that have nothing to do with the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.
In other words: expensive, less expensive and least expensive is not what it's about.
This is also backed by a series of Arms adverts in the Times of Malta late last year which stated that "The residential tariff is applicable on the consumer's primary residence."
Plus Article 45, Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Malta states the following: "... no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect."
Tenants are NOT lesser beings. Tenants should not pay at the extortionate domestic rate or non residential rate simply because they are tenants.
The non residential tariff is for businesses
The domestic tariff is for empty or occasionally used properties
The residential tariff is the tariff EVERYBODY living in their primary residence should be on.
I've prepared photoscreens of the online Arms calculator showing the cost of annual allowances of electricity and water at the domestic rate, the residential rate and the non residential rate for 1 person, 2 person, 3 person, 4 person and 5 person households. (see below)
At the residential rate households enjoy reasonable allowances of 1 750 units of electricity PER PERSON per year and 33 cubic metres of water PER PERSON per year at a cheaper rate. They also enjoy eco reductions if the allowance of 1 750 units of electricity PER PERSON is not exceeded.
The other two tariffs do not incorporate any allowances per person. There are no eco reductions applied.
The summary in the file below shows how the cost is broken down at the different tariffs for households of different number of occupants: ,
- The overcharge ranges from 43% to 103.4% more expensive. The average overcharge is 85%.
- Why should people living in their primary residence be on the non residential tariff simply because their landlord is a company? Why should these people pay VAT on their utilities, while others living in their primary residences, do not? Is this distinction allowed under EU law?
- Why should tenants living in their primary residence, not receive an eco reduction if they are being as environmentally friendly as homeowners? Is this distinction allowed under EU law?