HC Deb 23 December 1976 vol 923 cc260-1W
Mrs. Millie Miller

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made by the Working Group on New Towns and Tenure and Social Ownership in its consideration of local authority and housing association leasing of privately owned dwellings; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeson

The working group has now submitted its conclusions and, in particular, the findings of two of its members, Sir Dennis Pilcher and Mr. Derek Wood, who were asked to report specifically on this subject. I am now considering them in the context of our housing policy review.

The group concluded, subject to reservations by one of its members, that the letting to local authorities and housing associations of privately owned property could be useful in encouraging some landlords to continue to make property available for renting or to bring empty property into use. It would, however, be difficult to assess the likely supply of each property or to discover the extent to which private landlords would be willing to enter into agreements of this kind. The evidence does not suggest that a significant number of blocks of flats, or estates or groups of houses, would generally be available, but that a useful number of individual dwellings, which might be vacant for a variety of reasons, could be the subject of such agreements.

The group accepted the general view of the local authorities and their associations which submitted evidence that local authorities and housing associations should pay "fair rents" to the owners of property they leased.

The group made a number of valuable detailed recommendations as to the tetras on which property should be leased and the way in which it should be managed.