HC Deb 24 June 1952 vol 502 cc2018-9
17. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he has taken to prevent the circumvention of the Rent Restriction Acts by property companies which are exerting pressure on their tenants to enter into voluntary agreements to pay higher rents.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 17th June to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner).

Mr. Davies

Yes, I am aware of that reply, but is the Minister aware that certain of these public companies are exercising intimidation over their tenants, implying that, if they do not sign these new agreements, when or if the Government revise the Rent Restriction Acts, they will be in danger of being evicted?

Mr. Macmillan

All I can say is that under the present law a tenant is fairly well protected. He need not pay any increased rent. In many cases I have heard of the tenants have thought it right and fair to do so. But the tenant need not pay, and if by any mischance he should pay he can recover it at any time within two years.

Mr. Janner

What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to get the local authorities to publish the fact that these are wrong claims being made? It is a very serious matter and the tenants are being deceived.

Mr. Macmillan

It is not a wrong claim for a landlord to ask his tenant to make a voluntary addition to the rent. [Interruption.] That is not a wrong claim at all. Hon. Gentlemen know from their personal experience that in some cases the tenants have thought it right and fair to pay more rent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—especially where services are paid for in the rent, the cost of which has risen. But it is wrong—I say to the hon. Gentleman if he will restrain his ardour a little—for pressure to be brought, and I hope that his Question, and the Questions last week, and my answer will give publicity to the fact that it is wrong to use such pressure.

Sir Edward Keeling

Is my right hon. Friend aware that with the present rents some property owners have not enough money to carry out proper repairs?

Mr. Davies

That can be no reason for breaking the law. However, will the Minister give an assurance that those people who refuse to enter into voluntary agreements will not be prejudiced in regard to their relationships with their landlords should the Rent Restriction Acts be revised?