HC Deb 10 June 1980 vol 986 cc332-5

' (1) Section 5 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1971 shall be amended as follows—

  1. (a) in subsection (4) the words from the beginning to "fulfilled," are repealed ; and
  2. (b) subsection (5) is repealed.

(2) Sections 64 and 65 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1972 are repealed.

(3) Section 66 of the said Act of 1972 shall be amended by substituting for the words "to (4) "the words", (2) and (4) ".

(4) Section 18 of the Housing Act 1974 shall be amended as follows—

  1. (a) in subsection (2) the words "in such form as may be prescribed "are repealed ; and
  2. (b) subsection (5) is repealed.'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move, that the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 214, 226 and 227.

Mr. Rifkind

This clause provides for a number of minor amendments and repeals to housing association rent provisions.

Subsection (1) removes the financial conditions limiting the exclusion from Rent Act protection of registered housing association tenancies and the tenancies of co-ownership societies. All such tenancies should be so excluded regardless of the financial arrangements under which the houses were provided. Therefore, all housing associations would thereby obtain proper security.

Subsection (2) repeals section 64 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1972 which empowers the Secretary of State to fix a special rent limit when the previous rent limit exceeds a first registered rent and section 65 which lays down the procedures to be followed. The power has only been used once and is no longer necessary since revenue deficit grant is now available to meet any loss on rent income.

Subsection (3) removes the obligation on a registered housing association as regards tenancies which are not secure tenancies to include in a notice of rent increase reference to the tenants' right to terminate the tenancy.

Subsection (4) removes the obligation placed on housing associations, when a tenancy is converted into a regulated tenancy, to give notice in a prescribed form.

These provisions are no longer relevant, given the security of tenure that is now provided to tenants of registered housing associations under part II of the Bill.

Mr. Millan

The Minister said that in another part of the Bill security of tenure was given to housing association tenants. However, the provisions of the new clause act in the opposite direction as to the interests of tenants, by removing certain protections that they have at present in relation to rents. As I understand it, subsection (1) means that they no longer have the protection of the Rent Acts at all.

Subsections (3) and (4) also give rather less protection to tenants, in both cases, in relation to the notice that should be given to housing association tenants by the housing association itself.

I understand that the relationship between a housing association and its tenants is not the same as that between a private landlord and his tenants Nevertheless, these amendments may not be as minor as the Minister suggested.

Were these provisions subject to consultation with the housing association movement in Scotland? What other consultations were there and what were the results of them?

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentle-man slightly misunderstood subsection (1). Its effect is to remove the financial conditions limiting the exclusion from Rent (Scotland) Act protection. Therefore, as a result of this deletion, all housing association tenancies will have protection rather than have it removed from them.

Under subsection (3), where there has been a notice of a rent increase, it is surely no longer necessary specifically to remind the tenant of his right to terminate the tenancy. That is a clear right which the tenant has, given the new rights of housing association tenants under the Bill. They, being members of a registered housing association, thereby have the protection with which the Bill provides them. Therefore, further provision is not necessary for these tenants.

Mr. Mullan

I am sorry to disagree with the Minister. As I understand it, subsection (1) does exactly the opposite of what he said. It does exactly what I said earlier. It excludes all the tenancies that we are talking about under this clause from Rent (Scotland) Act protection. That is what the Minister's notes on the clause say. He has misinterpreted the clause. I hope that he has given accurate accounts of some of the other clauses. As this is a removal of protection from tenants—whether it is important at the minute or not—has there been any discussion about it?

Mr. Rifkind

The point that I wished to make was that from now on, as a result of the Bill, those who occupy property belonging to a registered housing association will not need the protection of the Rent Acts, because they have the protection of this Bill. Under part II, tenants of a registered housing association will have full security of tenure and other rights that go with i and those rights will in future be available to council tenants as well. Only tenants of a non-registered housing association will need the continued protection of the Rent Acts, and they are not affected by subsection (1).

Question put and agreed to.

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

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