HC Deb 12 June 1974 vol 874 cc1602-3
13. Mr. Sainsbury

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proportion of privately rented accommodation is provided by landlords letting part of the building in which they themselves live.

Mr. Freeson

According to figures derived from the 1971 Census, approximately 5 per cent. of all privately rented lettings in England and Wales are provided by owner-occupiers or by tenants who sublet part of their own tenancy.

Mr. Sainsbury

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the valuable role played by the private rented sector, especially in certain areas, as indicated in Supplementary Table 6 of the report of the Francis Committee? Is he further aware of the amount of accommodation which is now vacant because of the continued discouragement given to private landlords? Will he, therefore, give early consideration to allowing the landlords to recover the increases in costs of services that they provide to tenants?

Mr. Freeson

I am not aware of large numbers of properties standing empty as a result of rent increases, if that is what the hon. Gentleman is referring to. There has been a steady decline in the rented market for some years. That decline has increased in recent years. It has been running at the rate of about 130,000 a year over the last five or six years. We need to take steps to prevent a continued decline in the rented sector, and our municipalisation and socialisation policy will help us to do just that.

Mr. George Cunningham

Is it not necessary to distinguish between a house in which an owner-occupier lives and lets off one or two rooms and, at the other extreme, a block of flats where the owner lives in one of the self-contained flats? Will my hon. Friend assure us that the Government will not commend to the House any legislation which, in the latter circumstances, will remove security of tenure from the tenants?

Mr. Freeson

The Rent Bill is already going through Parliament. It is being dealt with in another place and will soon be introduced here. It will be best to leave detailed consideration of its terms to that occasion.

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