August 2013: We find out that we have been overcharged by more than 3 000 euro on our utilities. We tell our landlord that we will therefore not pay the 1 600 euro arrears on the Arms bill.
August 2013: Our ex landlord succeeds in applying a garnishee order on our bank account and my salary because, prima facie, we “owe” him money.
October 2013: I submit a complaint to the EU Commission and a petition to the EU Parliament.
November 2013: I write to then Arms CEO James Davis, cc’d to Minister for Energy, Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, asking for a refund of our overcharge. This would also have the effect of cancelling the arrears on the Arms account and therefore would necessitate a stop to the court proceedings. Legalistic gobbledegook was the reply, and therefore I had to attend court for nearly two years.
November 2013 to July 2015: I attend court monthly to have my say on why we should get the garnisheed money back.
Spring 2014: We correspond with the National Audit Office because we felt that Arms was just as negligent as our landlord in this affair. Arms systemically overcharges ALL tenants because it does not allow tenants to apply for the residential tariff for people living in their primary residences WITHOUT the permission of the landlord. This has created a fraud triangle between landlords, letting agents and Arms. The net effect is that it is not in any of these three’s interests to remedy this situation. Disappointlngly we were told that, because we were in sub judice, the NAO could not intervene. This was a nonsense, we felt, because Arms was neither the plaintiff nor the defendant.
August 2014: I submit a complaint to the Maltese Office of the Ombudsman. Again, we are totally disillusioned because again I was told that nothing could be done because I was in sub judice. Therefore I write a complaint on behalf of all tenants, instead. To date I have not been informed by the Office of the Ombudsman of any closure, or solution to this problem.
July 10th 2015: The magistrate in the Small Claims Court ruled that in the same way that 'Ignorance is no excuse' for tenants, it was also no excuse for landlords, and therefore the landlord had to pay half the Arms arrears.
July 14th 2015: I watch the live video stream of the discussion of my petition 1737/2013 in the EU Parliament. The EU Commission representative said that the Commission was unhappy with the response of the Maltese Government re the Arms/tenant issue and therefore my petition was to be kept open.
February, 2016: I receive an update from the EU Commission re my complaint. This is the letter:
It only took 2 and a half years (and counting) of time, effort, angst, stress... to get to this point. And it wasn't any Maltese check and balance that got us here.
Thank goodness for the EU is all I can say.