§ Mr. Worsley
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the operation of the law relating to the prevention of harassment and unlawful eviction.
§ Mr. Channon
The maximum penalties for harassment and unlawful eviction have been greatly increased in Section 30 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972. From January 1st, those convicted on indictment are liable to a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine or two years' imprisonment, or both. On summary conviction, the maximum penalty is a £400 fine or six months' imprisonment, or both.
Together with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, I am writing today to all local housing authorities reminding them of the Government's concern that swift and effective action is taken against those who commit these offences. Many local authorities have appointed special officers to investigate complaints. I welcome this and have asked all local authorities to consider such appointments. I am publicising these new penalties in the advertising campaign on the Housing Finance Act, and the Department's leaflets and booklets remind landlords and tenants of the penalties for these offences. Rent books must contain a statement that harassment and unlawful eviction are criminal offences.