Monday, October 17, 2005

Government’s GHA rental dilemma

The Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) has rented a small number of flats for its employees in housing estates where subletting is prohibited, the House of Assembly heard last week.

Although the matter was first identified toward the end of last year and was raised again during an earlier session of the House this year, the government said it was still considering “the appropriate way” to resolve the situation.

The issue relates to flats in Harbour Views, Montagu Gardens and Westview Park which were built for owner occupiers, not for business purposes as rental properties. The head lease of these properties prevents owners from subletting them to others. But the House heard that the GHA was renting up to five such flats, despite the terms of the lease.

Ernest Britto, Minister for Health, said the government was still looking into the matter and said one key consideration was the high cost of rental properties in other areas of Gibraltar. Any final decision, he said, “will be made in the interests of Gibraltar and in the interests of the taxpayer.” He also said that owners of such properties, or those buying in future owner-occupier estates, should not harbour hopes of a government policy change on this issue.

“The government is considering the situation,” Mr Britto said. “No one should jump to any conclusions.”

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