Although this is the area of law most frequently associated with landlord and tenant, it has come to affect a dwindling number of people — despite attempts by successive governments to reinvigorate the private rented sector. The first Rent Act (known as the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act) was passed in 1915 in order to prevent landlords (most particularly in Glasgow) from raising rents to exploit the increased wages of munitions workers. As its title suggests, the Act was intended as a temporary measure but it was followed by a succession of Rent Acts which variously reduced security and rent control (in 1923 and 1933), restored it (in 1939), withdrew it (in 1957) replaced it again (in 1965), and extended it to most lettings without resident landlords (in 1974). The last act in this long line is the Rent Act 1977 — a consolidating act — to which around 80,000 tenancies are still subject. The different rationales behind the various Acts all failed to halt the decline of the private sector from 90 per cent of total stock in 1914 to 11 per cent in 1981 and 7 per cent in 1991. However, subject to a very few exceptions, no new Rent Act tenancies have been created since 15 January 1989 and the changes made by the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996 have led to a slight increase so that the private rented sector today accounts for around 10 per cent in Great Britain (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Housing Statistics 2003).
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