HC Deb 11 November 1927 vol 210 cc571-3

I beg to move, in page 16, line 18, at the end, to insert the words: (2) A right of re-entry or forfeiture for a breach of any such covenant or agreement as aforesaid shall nut he enforceable, by action or otherwise, unless the lessor proves that the fact that such a notice as is required by Section one hundred and forty-six of the Law of Property Act, 1925, had been served on the lessee was known either—

  1. (a) to the lessee; or
  2. (b) to an under-lessee holding under an under lease which reserved a nominal reversion only to the lessee; or
  3. (c) to the person who last paid the rent due under the lease either on his own behalf or as agent for the lessee or under-lessee;
and that a time reasonably sufficient to enable the repairs to be executed has elapsed since the time when the fact of the service of the notice came to the knowledge of any such person. Where a notice has been sent by registered post addressed to a person at his last known place of abode in the United Kingdom, then, for the purposes of this Sub-section, that person shall be deemed, unless the contrary is proved, to have had knowledge of the fact that the notice has been served as from the time at which the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post. This is a somewhat formidable looking Amendment, but all it does is to cure a very simple point. I am moving it at the instance of a number of holders of leases as well as other interests and it is intended to cure the case where lessees holding valuable interests in property have in the past either lost or jeopardised their interests owing to the notice served by the owner of the property concerning dilapidations not having reached the lessees in question. I have received particulars of a number of cases where lessees have been placed in the position I describe by a deficiency in regard to the notices which have been served upon them. I do not propose to recite any of these cases, although I think any one of them would show the House that it is a real grievance which it is desirable to remove. I do not think it is necessary to give the particulars of these cases. By the Law of Property Act of 1925 it is provided that a right of re-entry or forfeiture under the stipulation of a breach of the covenant was not enforceable unless the lessor served on the lessee a notice, which may be served by leaving it on the premises or by sending it through the post to one of the parties interested.

This Amendment would take the matter a little further, and it provides that the lessor should in effect serve a similar notice to that which he serves on the occupying tenant, or leaves upon the premises, upon the lessee, or in cases where property is held on an under-lease, which reserves a nominal reversion only to the lessee, that he should serve a similar notice upon the lessee or upon the person who last paid the rent, and that sufficient time should be allowed to enable the repairs to be executed. This Amendment is one of a class which I have always thought should be carried into effect, and I hope the House will accept it. I do not intend to burden the House with a number of cases which I could give to show that there have been miscarriages of justice owing to the insufficient provision with regard to these notices. I have supplied the Home Secretary with quite a number of these cases, and I hope I have convinced him that it will be fair and reasonable to adopt some such provision as this. I also hope that I have succeeded in putting down this Amendment in a form which will work in with the rest of the Bill.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I hope the House will not accept this proposal. There has been quite enough tinkering with the law as between landlord and tenant without having any more of it. I do not know why the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch) should seek to interfere with the law as laid down in the Law of Property Act, 1925. That law is perfectly clear, and it is a recent Act, and although the hon. Member has said that he has many instances where it has not worked properly I suggest that if there is anything wrong it should be put right by an Amending Act. If we are going to accept this kind of proposal we shall never know where we are. Landlords and tenants should know under what Statutes they are working. At the present moment they are under one Act of Parliament, they look for something else in another Statute, and then they have to come to this Bill for other provisions. I think the law of landlord and tenant has been attacked quite enough, and tinkered with quite enough. I hope the House will refuse to give this Amendment any consideration at all.


I am sorry to hear the observations of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye) I think this Amendment a very valuable one. I have submitted it to my legal advisers and they consider it entirely well drafted, entirely in order; and it does meet a real difficulty and injustice. The hon. Member who is such a purist in the law as between landlord and tenant should look at the Title of the Bill. It is a Bill "to amend the law of landlord and tenant." When we find a defect in the ordinary law, and we have an opportunity of amending it, I think it is the duty of the Government to accept any reasonable Amendment which deals with the difficulty in a satisfactory manner.


I wish to congratulate the Home Secretary on the position he has taken up. The only objection to this Amendment offered by the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye) is that it interferes with the law generally of landlord and tenant. But the whole of Part 2 of this Bill amends the law of landlord and tenant, and his objection, therefore, is not to this particular proposal but to the whole of Part 2. Moreover the Law of Property Act, 1925, is a consolidating Statute and therefore is not sacrosanct even on that footing. I do not want to waste time now, except to say that I do not see anything objectionable in the Amendment upon which the hon. Member for Loughborough has poured so much scorn.

Amendment agreed to.