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Agriculture ministry working on new reform to protect farmers from eviction

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The ministry for agriculture is working on a new landlord legislation to cease farmers from being evicted from their agricultural land.

According to newspaper Illum, Minister Anton Refalo confirmed that authorities is working on a new legislation to protect farmers from eviction by landowners demanding excessive funds.

The reform issues the Agricultural Leases Act, which used to grant tenants of agricultural leases and indefinite proper of renewal.

However, a landmark judgement within the constitutional courtroom final November declared that the Act breached house owners’ rights to the peaceable enjoyment of their property.

Since November final yr there have been 60 separate circumstances towards Maltese farmers by the landowners who need to expel them from the agricultural land they work.

The agricultural leases after the constitutional ruling are being negotiated in accordance to the present market charges, that are dependent on the demand for the land for leisure functions. This is leading to market costs that aren’t inside the finances of the farmers.

Farming NGOs have repeatedly requested authorities for help on the matter, as landowners look to flip a fast revenue by sending tenant farmers away from their land.

Last August, members of Koperattiva Rurali Manikata and Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi pleaded for presidency to sort out the difficulty in the identical manner it tackled the pre-1995 housing leases subject.

However, Refalo instructed Illum that no subsidy could be granted on this case, as was performed to clear up the pre-1995 evictions, due to problems surrounding EU definitions of state assist.

Instead, authorities is wanting to an analogous legislation in France as inspiration for Malta’s reform.

The landmark judgement

The case involved a 5,000sq.m parcel of land and farmhouse, in Żabbar, acquired in 1982 by J & C Properties, together with one other 4 properties, for Lm26,000 then. The land was leased to Nazzareno Pulis, at an annual hire of €58.23, remaining so leased till as we speak.

The house owners filed a declare that their rights had been being breached as a result of they weren’t being afforded satisfactory compensation. The first courtroom had upheld that declare, awarding the corporate €100,000 in damages.

The State Advocate appealed however the Constitutional Court rejected the arguments put ahead, save for that regarding the awarded damages, successfully slashing the sum to €22,000.

While such restrictions on possession rights had been supposed for “social purposes”, the Court requested whether or not the proprietor was receiving satisfactory and proportionate compensation. Under the present regime, the proprietor might solely declare again his land for farming functions or to develop the positioning, save for different situations the place shortcomings had been proved on the a part of the lessee.

This meant that if the proprietor didn’t intend to farm the land or lacked the capital to develop it, he couldn’t declare his property again, except the lessee agreed in writing to the termination of the lease.

The Court due to this fact dominated that the lessees might now not avail themselves of the legislation to renew the lease. Whether any eviction follows, will fall inside the competence of the abnormal courts.