HC Deb 07 July 1980 vol 988 cc51-2W
Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish the information requested by the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden during the debate on the Report stage of the Housing Bill concerning shorthold tenancies, Official Report, 20 May, col. 350–51 and 368–69.

Mr. Stanley

The following is the text of the letter I sent to the hon. Member on 2 July:


During Report stage of the Housing Bill on 20 May, you raised two points about shorthold on which I promised to write to you.

The first was concerned with rent. You were worried that when a tenant wanted to stay on beyond the fixed term the landlord might demand a much higher rent than the registered rent, and threaten to evict the tenant if he refused to pay it.

Because shorthold tenancies are protected tenancies under the Rent Act, there are exactly the same safeguards for shorthold tenants as for other protected or statutory tenants. In particular, sections 44 and 45 and section 57 of the Rent Act 1977 make any rent above the registered rent irrecoverable. The tenant in the circumstances you described would have no obligation to pay any rent above the level of the registered rent, and if he did so would be legally entitled to recover any excess he had paid in the previous two years—not one year as you said. In order to make sure that tenants are fully aware of this, we shall ensure that it is drawn to their attention in the prescribed form that the landlord has to serve on the tenant before the grant of the shorthold.

In addition, you will be aware of the Government amendment we tabled at Report giving tenants who stay on beyond the shorthold term additional security for a further year. And, of course, the registered rent remains the rent limit until any new rent is registered.

The second point you raised was whether a shorthold tenancy would qualify as suitable alternative accommodation under part IV of schedule 15 of the Rent Act 1977.

This has certainly never been our intention. To put the matter beyond doubt we have tabled an amendment in the Lords to part IV of schedule 15 of the 1977 Act so that it is explicitly spelled out that neither shorthold nor the other mandatory cases under part II of schedule 15 would constitute suitable alternative accommodation for a fully protected or statutory tenant under the Rent Act.