HC Deb 16 February 1949 vol 461 cc1274-6

—(1) Where—

  1. (a) whether before or after the commencement of this Act the purchase of any furniture or other articles has been required as a condition of the grant, renewal, continuance or assignment of a tenancy to which Section (Prohibition of premiums on grant or assignment of tenancy) applies, and
  2. (b) the price exceeds the reasonable price of the articles,
the excess shall be treated, for the purposes of the foregoing provisions of this Act and, so far as they continue to have effect, of Section eight of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920, as if it were a premium required to be paid as a condition of the grant, renewal, continuance or assignment of the tenancy.

(2) Where after the commencement of this Act any such purchase as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of the last foregoing Subsection is required as therein mentioned, the price demanded shall, at the request of the person on whom the demand is made, be stated in writing; and if, without reasonable excuse, a person required to give such a statement in writing fails within fourteen days to do so, or knowingly gives a statement which is false in any material particular, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.

(3) Subsection (1) of Section nine of the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1923, is hereby repealed, but without prejudice to the effect of any statement of the price of articles given under that Subsection before the commencement of this Act.—[Mr. Blenkinsop.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Blenkinsop

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

This proposed new Clause merely assimilates existing provisions of the Rent Restrictions Acts as regard payments of an excessive character on furniture or other articles as a condition of the tenancy with the new provisions following the passage of the Clause with which we have just dealt. The only additional point raised in this Clause is the requirement that in future, if a condition of this character is required, it must be given in writing.

Mr. J. Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

There is a point arising from what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Binns), who has now left the Committee, which impels me to ask the Minister if he really means that this new Clause covers such cases as were raised, namely, where a landlord undertakes considerable repairs and makes those repairs a condition of the tenancy. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that such a situation would be covered?

Mrs. Mann

I am glad to see that the question of furniture is covered, but the very important question of fittings arises here. In Scotland it has been well known that to charge a premium is illegal, but night after night we see advertisements in the newspapers which run like this, "Young couple require service flat"—or, "require accommodation"—"high price will be paid for fittings." The fittings may be just a nail in the bathroom, a towel rail or a laundry pole in the kitchenette. The price charged may be, and quite often has been, £100. It is really key money, but it goes under the guise of "fittings" and the operative word in all the advertisements is "fittings." I hope my right hon. Friend will make it very clear that fittings are covered by the word "furniture."

Mr. Bevan

If my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) will look at the beginning of the new Clause she will see whether before or after the commencement of this Act the purchase of any furniture or other articles …;. I think what she has described would be covered by those words. I will certainly make quite sure that that is so, because I agree with the point which my hon. Friend made.

10.0 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

A point was made about decorations, etc. While it is obviously undesirable that the landlord should use decorations as an excuse for charging a premium, it is obviously desirable that a house should be decorated before a new tenant enters. In most cases the new tenant would be glad if such decoration were carried out, and would be willing to pay for it. Is that point covered by the words of this Clause?

Mr. Bevan

I am not quite sure about that. I will look into it.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will look into it because it will be a point of interest both to landlord and tenant.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.