HC Deb 26 March 1957 vol 567 cc988-9

Where the landlord is himself a tenant, then unless he is tenant under a tenancy having a term with more than seven years to run an agreement between him and his tenant relating to the amount of the 1956 gross value or of the rateable value of the dwelling-house shall not have effect for the purposes of this Act except with the concurrence in writing of his immediate landlord.—[Mr. Bevins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Bevins

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

Perhaps I may say at the start that this Clause also applies to Scotland. The Clause deals with the case of a dwelling let by a superior landlord to a mesne tenant who, in turn, sub-lets part of the dwelling to a sub-tenant. The Clause provides that the mesne tenant can come to an agreement with the sub-tenant to apportion the rateable value of his part of the dwelling, either the gross rateable value or the net rateable value or both, only with the consent in writing of the superior landlord.

Perhaps I might illustrate very briefly what this Clause means and how it will work, if one supposes the case of a mesne tenant who is a statutory or a contractual tenant and who is also affected by the decontrol provisions of Clause 10. Suppose, in a case such as that, the rateable value of the dwelling is, let us say, £90. Suppose that particular mesne tenant knows that, for some reason or another, at the end of the 15 months' standstill period he will have to vacate the premises, in such a case, if the subtenant occupies half of the house, in the ordinary course of events the apportionment of rateable value would be about £45, which would be in respect of the sub-tenant's accommodation. But it is conceivable, if the mesne tenant were not going to have any further interest in his own tenancy, that he might, out of pique against the superior landlord, agree to an apportionment of rateable value with the subtenant which would be prejudicial and unfair to the superior landlord.

He might, for example, say, "I will agree to an apportionment of rateable value of £25 gross and £20 net" and in that way the sub-tenant, who, in the ordinary case, might perhaps become decontrolled on becoming the tenant of the superior landlord, would remain controlled and would in future pay a lower rent to the superior landlord than he ought to do. That is briefly the objective of the Clause. It seeks to prevent that sort of practice by the mesne tenant who might feel aggrieved by his superior landlord and I hope that the House will be willing to accept it.

Mr. Mitchison

In this guillotined Bill we on this side of the House see no objection to the Clause and good reason for it.

Sir P. Spens

The only point I want to raise is this. As the Bill is drafted, there is an alternative to an agreement between the landlord and the tenant as regards apportionment, namely, that it can, if necessary, be determined by the county court.

This new Clause, I assume, does not in any way prevent, if the superior landlord refuses to agree or if the immediate landlord refuses to agree, the tenant going to the county court to get the gross rateable value properly apportioned.

Mr. Bevins

I think that the short answer to that is that this new Clause does not in any way affect the provisions which are already in the Bill, but deals with a particular case which is not covered by the existing provisions.

Question put and agreed to.

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