HC Deb 15 May 1933 vol 278 cc109-10

(1) Where the recoverable rent of any dwelling-house to which the principal Acts apply is determined by any court, that court shall have power, on the application of the tenant, whether in those proceedings or in any subsequent proceedings, to call for the production of the rent book or any similar document relating to the dwelling-house and may direct the registrar or clerk of the court to correct any entries therein snowing, or purporting to show, the tenant as being in arrear in respect of any sum which the court has determined to be irrecoverable.

(2) Paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2) of Section fourteen of the Act of 1920 (which relates to the refusal or neglect of landlords to delete from rent books and similar documents entries purporting to show as arrears sums which are irrecoverable) shall have effect in relation to entries made after the passing of the Act of 1920 as well as in relation to entries made before that date, and in the said Sub-section {2) there shall be substituted for the words "unless he proves that he acted innocently and without intent to deceive," the words "unless he proves that at the time of the making of the entry or of the neglect or refusal to cause it to be deleted, as the case may be, the landlord had a bona fide claim that the sum was recoverable."—[Sir S. Aske.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

8.18 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The object of this Clause is to deal with rent-books which are inaccurate in showing a larger amount of rent in arrear than is in fact the case. There is no power at the present time for any court to order the rectification of a rent-book in such circumstances, and the matter is one of great importance, because in many parts of the country a tenant is unable to get another house as long as he has a rent-book which shows that he is in arrear with rent. The object of the Clause is to enable any court before whom the question of the rent may come to order the rent-book to be rectified in such a case.

Sub-section (2) of the Clause deals with a provision of Section 14 of the Act of 1920 by virtue of which the court of summary jurisdiction may inflict a fine upon a landlord or collector who makes or authorises to be made inaccurate entries in rent-books. At the present time, in Section 14, there are certain words which enable a landlord to escape liability if he proves merely that he acted innocently and without intent to deceive. Those words are inappropriate to the circumstances of these cases, the real point being whether the landlord has a bond fide claim that the sum is recoverable. Sub-section (2) of the Clause provides that, if a landlord proves that he has such a bond fide claim, that will be a defence, but no other circumstance will be a defence. The principle of the Clause was accepted by the Minister in Committee. It has been redrafted in collaboration with the Department, I and I trust that it is now in order.


I beg to second the Motion.

8.21 p.m.


We accept this Clause, and congratulate my hon. Friend on bringing it forward. It is obviously unfair that any landlord should be able to enter up a rent-book incorrectly and penalise a tenant whenever he wants to seek other accommodation. The Government have carefully considered the nature of the Clause and the way in which it is drafted, and have pleasure in accepting it.

Clause added to the Bill.