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Furnished Premises (Rents)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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64.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is now in a position to make available to this House the information collected from local authorities in connection with the charging of excessive rents for furnished premises?

Yes, Sir. I recently called for further information from the 1,468 local authorities concerned and have now received returns from 1,180. I will with permission circulate the gist of the information derived from these returns, as it is rather long, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Could my right hon. Friend say when he proposes to take action, because what is going on is very embarrassing to our American friends, at any rate in London?

The hon. Gentleman had better read the answer. If he does that he will find that only 101 out of 1,468 authorities report having received complaints, that over half of them on investigation proved to be unfounded, and that in 75 of the remaining 87 the local authorities secured a reduction of rent by negotiation.

Following is the reply:

Only 101 authorities report having received complaints about excessive rents for furnished premises, the number of such complaints being 202. On investigation 115, or more than half, proved to be unfounded, and in 75 of the remaining 87 the local authorities secured reductions in the rent by negotiations with the landlord. Eleven prosecutions were undertaken, of which eight were successful.

These reports are very similar to those for the previous periods, and like them provide no support for the contention that the practice of charging excessive rents for furnished premises presents a grave problem all over the country. They confirm both the conclusion previously reached that the problem is relatively a limited one, and the view I have frequently expressed that the existing powers of local authorities are generally adequate to remedy abuses as and when they arise. The complete liquidation of this problem depends on the vigorous exercise by local authorities of their powers and of the cooperation with them of aggrieved tenants, without which they are helpless. I am hopeful that the greater publicity I have recently urged upon local authorities in supplementation of the great help given by the Press will remove any present reluctance on the part of tenants to take complaints to the authorities and will lead to much greater co-operation between them. I am keeping in close touch with the position and am asking local authorities for further reports in six months.