HC Deb 27 January 1971 vol 810 cc535-6
16. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for additional advertising campaigns to advise tenants of their rights and remedies under the Rent Act, 1968.

Mr. Peter Walker

On taking office, I decided that both the quality and quantity of effort was insufficient.

I have, therefore, endeavoured to improve the quality of the advertising and I have increased the expenditure by 60 per cent. over that planned by my predecessors. I am currently considering the question of further publicity.

Mr. Davis

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, will he undertake that, if there is to be further publicity as he has outlined, he will consult local authorities more actively about the best way in which that publicity should be given? Does not he agree also that the results of the previous publicity were very disappointing and that many tenants are still unaware of their rights and remedies?

Mr. Walker

I am sure that a lot more needs to be done, and I would be willing to hear any suggestions made by local authorities. Under the new Statutes that we intend to introduce, we wish to provide that these rights shall be printed in every rent book.

Mr. Maddan

Will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind the problems of small landlords who cannot have recourse to solicitors every day and who are exploited by a minority of unscrupulous tenants who know all the dodges and often frustrate court orders to pay arrears of rent?

Mr. Walker

Certainly. However, there is a lot of hardship for tenants in certain areas as a result of their not knowing their legal rights. I am anxious that they should know them.

Mr. Leonard

As the right hon. Gentleman has conceded that a large number of tenants are unaware of their rights under the 1968 Act and are not taking advantage of them, will he consider postponing his decision to bring controlled tenants under the fair rent procedure until a higher proportion of existing tenants take advantage of their rights?

Mr. Walker

By bringing to the attention of tenants their rights, our new legislation will improve the situation substantially.

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