As most of you know, the 21st of August, 2013 was a day I will not easily forget. A few days earlier we had informed our landlord that we would be moving out of the property and that we would not be paying the 1 600 euro or so arrears on the Arms bill. We explained that the reason we were moving was that we had discovered that we were on the incorrectly applied domestic tariff, which was the tariff designed for owners of empty or occasionally used second homes. We held him responsible for not making sure that we were on the right tariff. As a landlord of several properties over many years, we felt that he had a duty of care towards us, his tenants, only ten days in the country. His incompetence or fraudulence ( I know which one I’m going for) was the reason why we had already overpaid by about 1 600 euro. We sure as heck were not going to continue overpaying. He had betrayed our trust and we were shocked to the core by his behaviour. Isn’t this what most assertive people do when confronted by an incorrect bill and a fraudulent or incompetent person? Refuse to pay for services not rendered or services not rendered correctly? Apparently, in this case, no. Subsequently we found out that this was the situation with every single tenant we came into contact with. Tenants just paid up. And tugged their forelocks. Three bags full, sir, they said. This may be why our ex landlord had the gall to apply to the Maltese courts for a garnishee order on our bank account and my salary – he simply thought that he’d strong arm us into paying up. Little did he know that my style is to always, but always, stand up to the bullies. Never in my craziest dreams did I ever dream, on the 21st August, 2013, as I stood at the check out with my 5 year old son and a mountain of shopping in my trolley, that Maltese administrative policy would allow my ex landlord the power and capability to wreak such havoc with our lives over the next few years. As if this weren’t bad enough, the icing on the cake was when I spoke with Arms officials about our overpayment. I was told several times that ‘Arms doesn’t do refunds’ and ‘Who’s to know whether we hadn’t chosen to be on the extortionate, domestic tariff?’ It was here that I made a valuable acquaintance, who introduced me to the workings of the European Parliament and the European Commission. (Oisin Jones Dillon – I salute you, my friend!) Oisin provided me with a way to preserve my sanity. Because all around me, people in positions of power who I automatically placed on pedestals because of the high office they held, were coming up with legalistic gibberish that even a Franz Kafka would have been hard pressed to come up with. ‘Tenants do not exist for Arms.’ ‘The consumer referred to in the Water and Electricity Supply Regulations is the landlord and not the tenant.’ ‘Tenants live in their landlord’s second home, so of course the property should be on the domestic (Number of registered occupants = zero) tariff.’ And other such nonsense. My petition to the European Parliamentary Committee of Petitions, PETI 1737/2013, and my complaint to the European Commission, CHAP 02750(2013), are still open to this day. Throughout the 3 years since 2013, I have informed the EU on the various aspects of this state sanctioned scam. I founded a tenant support group, which I aim one day to be an ngo for tenants - Arms bills are not the only problem tenants have in a totally unregulated long let rental market - and I developed this website. I firmly believe that if it weren’t for the EU, then we would be on a hiding to nothing. Konrad Mizzi announced at a press conference in June 2016 that tenants would be able to access the correct residential tariff for people living in their primary residences, without needing their landlord’s signature on Arms Form H. Initially this was meant to have happened in October but was then pushed to January 2017. On Tuesday, the 10th of January, 2017, some tenants of the Up in Arms group, of which I was formerly a member, went en masse to the Arms office to test whether or not this was indeed true. Of course, Arms front desk staff did not have a clue about this new application form. This inaction by Arms re the longstanding Arms / tenant debacle, yet again, has re opened old wounds for me. The truth of the matter is that even though I spelt out the minute detail of the Arms / tenant scam to the ex Arms CEO, James Davis, the then Minister for Energy, Konrad Mizzi, the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the National Audit Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Inland Revenue, the EU Parliamentary Committee of Petitions, the EU Commission, countless comments and articles on social media, my blog..., the situation in January 2017 is not much better for tenants residing in Malta than it was in 2013. The sole, state owned utility billing company is still overcharging most tenants. Tenants still have no guaranteed access to Arms bills. This means so much more to me than the money we were overcharged. So much more. I want to get away from feeling this incensed. I had to attend court for 2 years because the Prime Minister and the then Minister for Energy thought that they should ignore my request for this billing system to be implemented correctly or scrapped. They ignored my request for our bill to be recalculated on the correct tariff with all 5 of us registered on the bill. They ignored me. They ignored the injustice. This scam is not an administrative error. This is brazen, blatant state theft. And by hook or by crook, we are going to put a stop to it. Whatever it takes. As for the EU, please don’t get me wrong: You gave me the time of day with my never ending stream of correspondence. You discussed my petition on the 14/7/2015 and on the 14/7/2016. Both times you kept my petition open ( how I thank you for that!). You are a chink of hope which I pray will not be extinguished until all vestiges of discrimination against tenants by Arms are removed. However, notwithstanding all this, in the current post Brexit vote and Trump vote, please may I ask you to be quicker in the enforcement of EU law? Three years have gone by. Three years of numerous tenants overpaying by thousands of euros. Why has it taken you so long? If the European project is ever to survive, then surely you have to pull your socks up?