HC Deb 23 November 1983 vol 49 cc314-5
14. Mr. Squire

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to seek to expand the private rented sector; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Ian Gow)

The Government wish the private rented sector to fulfil its important role in meeting housing needs, particularly those of the young, the single and the mobile. I am considering how we might improve the Rent Acts, with a view to enabling the private sector to meet more effectively the demand for homes to rent.

Mr. Squire

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that in many inner cities the only place where the young and mobile have a genuine choice is in the private sector? Will he consider some of the informed criticism of the present assured tenancy scheme made by people such as Clive Thornton? Does he agree that if changes were implemented there would be a dramatic increase in property coming on to the private rented market?

Mr. Gow

There has been an encouraging response to our new assured tenancies scheme and we wish to build on its initial success. It is precisely because I realise that for many people there is a great opportunity in the private rented sector that I am reviewing existing legislation. Too much of the legislation that was designed to help tenants in the private sector has succeeded only in drying up the supply of the accommodation that we need.

Mr. Winnick

Is the Minister aware that any change that would weaken security of tenure would be a great and damaging blow to private tenants? Is he further aware that there is considerable anxiety about the way in which the Berger group of companies treats its tenants? Will he take every possible step to investigate the serious allegations made about the Berger group, and will he report to the House as quickly as possible?

Mr. Gow

If the hon. Gentleman will put in writing the allegations that he has made on the Floor of the House, I shall investigate them fully. If he really cared about those who require accommodation, he would welcome the review that I have just announced.

Mr. Dykes

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is another aspect of legislation that needs to be looked at, and that is giving more confidence to this sector by making sure that tenants have a legal right to know who the landlord really is—the real owner, not just the agent?

Mr. Gow

I accept the force of what my hon. Friend says.