HC Deb 10 June 1980 vol 986 cc321-3

'(1) Section 5A of the 1971 Act (no protected tenancy where landlord's interest belongs to resident landlord) shall, in relation to a tenancy granted before or after the commencement of this section, be amended as follows—

  1. (a) in subsection 3(a) for "14" there shall be substituted "28" ;
  2. (b) in subsection 3(e) for "12" there shall be substituted "24" ; and
  3. (c) in subsection (4), after "3" there shall be inserted "(a) or (b)".'.—[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 (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 10—Resident Landlords.

Mr. Rifkind

New clause 2 modifies the provisions of the 1971 Act relating to the status of a tenant of a resident landlord following either the death of the landlord or the sale of the property. The clause extends from 14 days to 28 days the period within which an incoming resident landlord must either move in or notify the tenant of his intention to move in within six months.

The clause extends from one year to two years the time in which the executors are allowed to wind up the estate. It also allows the executors of a deceased resident landlord to recover possession from the tenant under the same procedure as applies for a resident landlord. Experience has shown that the existing time periods are too short, and I think that the House will agree that it is more sensible that a longer period be permitted.

New clause 10 is concerned with the letting of parts of flats in purpose-built blocks. The combined effect of the provisions of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1971 ensured that any letting by a landlord of part of the house in which he resided would be subject to the limited jurisdiction of part VII of that Act. This provision, however, was included to prevent a landlord occupying one flat in a tenement block of flats and claiming the resident landlord exemption for any other flats in the tenement that he rented.

However, as drafted the provisions of the 1971 Act gave full Rent Act protection to tenants of landlords who rent off part of their flat in a tenement block. That was never the intention. As I have already explained, purpose-built blocks of flats were specifically excluded in order to prevent tenancies of all separate flats in the block from being part VII contracts simply because the owner happened to live in one of them.

As a result of the new clause, letting off part of a flat in a tenement block by a resident landlord will be a part VII contract in the same way as if the landlord were living in any kind of house other than a tenement flat. The position of existing tenants is unaffected. They will continue to have full security of tenure.

I recommend the new clauses to the House.

Mr. Millan

I do not have any particular point to make on new clause 10 except to say that this is an extremely complicated area of the law. It is difficult to get the legislation to do exactly what one wishes it to do and not to do other things as a side effect. But, as far as I can judge, new clause 10 is all right.

I am not completely happy about subsection (1)(c) of new clause 2 concerning a deceased resident landlord. The effect of the new clause will be to make it easier to recover possession from a tenant of a deceased landlord than it is now. I accept that in the circumstances of the death of a landlord one must take account of the interests of the executors. However, one must also take account of the interests of the tenant who is, presumably, not responsible for the death of the landlord but who, nevertheless, may find himself losing his home. I am not sure that we have got the balance right here.

I raised a similar point in Committee, though in a slightly different context, on clause 52 in relation to a regulated tenancy. I do not wish to pursue the point now. I simply say that, while I agree with paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of new clause 2, I am doubtful about paragraph (c). Though we do not press the matter at the moment, I would certainly like to look at it before the Bill goes to another place.

4.30 pm
Mr. Rifkind

The purpose of the provision is that the tenant should neither benefit nor lose out as a result of the death of a resident landlord. The purpose is to give the executors of the resident landlord exactly the same rights as the resident landlord would have had if he were still alive. That seems to be a reasonably fair approach.

Mr. Millan

In these circumstances, the resident landlord is no longer alive and the situation is different. It does not follow logically that the tenant should be treated in exactly the same way as if the resident landlord were still alive. This is a matter that I wish to consider before the Bill goes to another place.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added the Bill.

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