HC Deb 03 August 1944 vol 402 cc1628-9W
Mr. Astor

asked the Attorney-General what is the position of a tenant towards his landlord when a portion of his house is rendered uninhabitable by enemy action.

The Attorney-General

It is for the Courts to decide what degree of damage renders premises unfit so as to bring into operation the Landlord and Tenant (War Damage) Acts, but it is plainly not necessary that every room should be rendered uninhabitable. If the damage to a portion of the house renders the premises unfit within the Acts the provisions of the Acts are briefly as follows. If the premises are held on a weekly, monthly or quarterly tenancy the rent is automatically suspended so long as the tenant remains out of occupation. Where, notwithstanding damage to part of the premises, the tenant continues in occupation of or re-occupies the remainder, he can ask his landlord to agree a suitable reduction in the rent, and if this fails he can apply to the County Court to fix a reduced rent. Until such reduced rent is agreed or fixed by the Court he remains while occupying liable for the whole of the rent.

In the case of longer tenancies the liability for rent continues notwithstanding the unfitness until the service by the tenant of a notice of disclaimer or retention, whereupon the rent ceases to be payable. Where a notice of retention has been served and a part of the premises becomes capable of beneficial occupation, the landlord may apply to the Court to fix a rent for the part. I should perhaps also refer to a provision under which a dwelling-house let on a short tenancy can be certified as fit if repaired to such an extent as is reasonably practicable and so as to render it reasonably capable of being used for housing purposes.