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Rent Act 1974

Volume 885: debated on Wednesday 5 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will expedite his proposed survey on the operation of the Rent Act 1974 in view of the latest representations about its effects.

The Department is already monitoring the operation of the Act as closely as possible.

Does the Minister believe that fair rents should also be a fair return on landlords' capital? If rent officers continue to fix rents which give a return of only about 3 per cent., how on earth does the Minister hope to arrest the collapse in the private rented market brought about by the Act, which is making thousands homeless when local authorities cannot cope?

We are committed to review the operation of the Rent Acts, and certain aspects of the point the hon. Gentleman has raised will fall to be considered under the housing finance review on which we are embarking.

As regards the loss of rented property from the market, there seems on the whole to be a fairly consistent experience in this through all types of legislative situation. So far as I am aware, the figures are not increasing now. The position has been, roughly speaking, that about 100,000 rented dwellings have left the market per year for the last decade or more.

In view of the campaign of vilification and misrepresentation against the Rent Act 1974, which has been mounted particularly by certain newspapers which should know better, will my hon. Friend undertake a publicity campaign to let landlords, particularly resident landlords, know the very considerable advantages conferred upon them by the Act?

I shall certainly consider that and call for a review of the publicity material that we have been using to see whether we can put across the facts about the Act more effectively. It is true that, due to the failure to be able to print the Act at an early stage, and also to some of the propaganda activities in certain fields, there has been misunderstanding by a number of resident landlords about their position. I believe that this is now being corrected and I shall do my best to encourage the process of correction.