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Eleven Deputies Censored.__I

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Irishmen in Cardifj.I

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Evading The Rents Acts. I

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Evading The Rents Acts. I I HOW LANDLORDS ARE BEHAVINC. I I WITH ADVICE TO THE TENANTS. I I BY W. HARRIS I I (Miners' Political Organiser, Pontllanfraith). I As I find that there is a general movement on in South Wa les among house owners to evade their obligations under the various Rents Re' striction Acts, perhaps you will allow me space to draw the attention of tenants to some of the metlnxls that are being adopted in these at- tempts at evasion on the part of the house- owners. I nder the provisions of the principle act (Rents Restrictions Act, 1915) landlords are entitled to increase the rent over and above the standard rent, in the event of the rates exceed- ing the rates paid for a period which included August t hl> anI, 1914. In most districts, es- pecially in the industrial portion of South Wales the rates levied for the present six months, April 1st to September 30th, are in excess of the rate> paid for the same period in 1914, but before the landlord can increase the rent on Cottage property because of this increase of rates, lie is under an obligation first to serve four weeks' notice upon the tenant of his inten- tion to raise the rent on this account, and se- condly, he must serve upon the tenant a state- ment showing the particulars of the increased rates and increased rateable value, if any. In a large number of instances I find that land- lords are taking advantage of this Clause to in- crease rent without fulfilling the obligations placed upon them by the Act, of giving four weeks' notice and supplying the particulars mentioned in the Act. I want to emphasise that this omission is distinctly a violation of the tprm, of the Act. and every tenant is justified in refusing to pay increased rent in every case where the landlord has failed to carry out these conditions. In some cases landlords are attempt- ing to increase the rent by an amount, which in the aggi egate is greater than the amount by I which the rates have been increased. I want to emphasise that the landlord is not entitled to benefit one penny piece through an increase of rates, and a tenant who is called upon to pay an increased rent in excess of the amount by which the rates have been increased is justified in re- fusing to pay any such increase. But the most important point that T want to draw attention to is the method adopted by which a large num- ber of owners in claiming the right to increase the rent for a period for which no notice has been given. For instance, in a number of cases brought to my notice, landlords have omitted to give notice to their tenants until June, July or August, but who in making a demand on the tenant, are demanding an increase of rent to cover the period from the first of April. This they are not entitled to do. THE COVERNINC CASE. I The method to be adopted is set forth bv a de- cision of ilr. Justice Pickford in the Court of Appeal in the case of Sutton and Sons v. Hol- lerton, which judgment was given on the 26th day of June, 1918. Mr. Justice Pickford has laid it down definitely that the method to be adopted is to divide the amount of increase of rates by the number of weeks in the rating period and the landlord is only entitled to claim the weekly proportion of such increase of rates to the end of the rating period from the date on which the 28 days' notice given to the tenant ex- pires. Thus assuming that the increase of rates for the six months amounts to 26/ this for the six months, which is 26 weeks, would amount to 11- per week. Assuming the landlord does not give notice to the tenant of his intention to increase the rent until the 1st of July, the land- lord's right to increase rent does not commence until the 2^th day of July, and then he would be limited in his right to increase the rent by ] 1- per week from the 28tli of July to the 30tli of September, and he has no right to claim the 1- per week from the 1st of April to the 28th of July. I have taken steps to enforce the tenants rights in this direction in quite a num- ber of cases in Monmouthshire, and one large Colliery Company have already had to refund hifndreds of pounds to their tenants that were illegally deducted under the method above men- tioned, and proper notices have had to be served upon the tenants in accordance with the decision given by Mr. Justice Pickford, and the increased rent can only be charged from the expiry of the amended notice given to the tenants. AN ILLECAL PAYMENT. Another point I should like to emphasise is that under the provisions of the Rents Acts of 1919 landlords will be entitled to increase the rent by 10 per cent, in six months from the date of the ratification of the Peace Terms. I have had a large number of cases brought to my no- tice where the landlords are attempting to en- force that 10 per cent. increase now. This they are clearly not entitled to do, and any tenant who is being asked to pay the 10 per cent, in- crease at the present time is being asked to make an illegal payment. Another feature to be remembered in connection with this 10 per cent, increase is that when it becomes operative it will only apply so far as the standard rent is concerned, and will not apply to the gross ren? he<n payable if included in this gross rent then!" is an amount of increase on account of increase of rates. For instance, assuming that the standard rentâthat is, the rent of August 3rd, 1914âbe 6 per week, and 1/- per week has been added on account of increased rates, when the 10 per cent, becomes applicable, the 10 per cent. will apply to the 6/- per week standard rent and not to the 7/- per week, the rent now paid, as it should be explained that the extra 1/- per week or any like amount that has been added to the standard rent on account of in- crease of rates must be taken off should the rates come down to the amount they were on August 3rd. 1914. Another point to be remembered in connection with this 10 per cent, is that the land- lord is only entitled to recover the 10 per cent. after lie has given an opportunity to the tenant to obtain a certificate from the Sanitary Author- ity, certifying that the house is in a reasonable state of repairs and fit for human habitation, and the landlord must acquaint the tenant of his right to apply to the Sanitary Authority for such a certificate, likewise the landlord on being asked by the tenant to state the standard rent of his house, must give a certificate to the tenant certifying the amount of standard rent âthat is the rent of August 3rd, 1914. Should lie fail to grant the tenant these particulars or if lie makes a false declaration with regard to these particulars, he is liable to a penalty of not exceeding £ 10 on conviction. Should any tenants feel aggrieved with regard to any of these matters appertaining to their rent, I would suggest that they immediately get into touch with the Secretary of the Trades and La- bour Councils in their area, in order to have the matter attended to, as the landlord class are acting together in these matters and it is essen- tial that the tenants should combine as well in order to defend their interests and to have the full advantage _thuri9:tls_Acts of Parliament

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