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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Tenant Rights

Tenant Rights.

They were aware that in renewals in the first class the rents were to be computed on the improved value. He thought this a mistake, and on this point he was rather radical in his ideas. He considered—and he was only following in the wake of abler thinkers—that rent was, after all, only portion of the profit that could be made out of land. No man could be expected to pay rent when it did not come out of the land itself. (Applause.) He thought that those who held these leases had a right to demand that the renewals should be upon the value of the land, exclusive of the value of the improvements effected by the tenant, for these improvements were merely the labour and capital put into the land by the occupier and to ask him to pay rent upon the value of these improvements was to tax the tenant for his own expenditure. (Applause) After a term of years of course improvements became exhausted or became merged in the land itself. It would be an impossible and unprofitable task to endeavour in every instance to assess the value of all improvements. But a period of 7 years, or some such term, might fairly be taken as a term within which improvements should be deducted in determining the value of land for renewals. That some approach was being made in this direction was evident from the way in which the second class of leases on this coast had been dealt with. The session before last the Government were prepared to have the rents under the new leases computed on the value of the land minus improvements which was the principle be upheld with regard to all classes of leases and the doctrine he had indicated would apply here inasmuch as the leases up the coast had not been seven years in existence. Last session however a retograde movement had been made and the Public Trustee desired the re letting of these lands to be upon the full improved values. The compromise of last session was not a satisfactory one inasmuch as it offered only the benefit of allowance for houses and buildings erected upon the land. These were small charges in comparison with the money tenants expended in other improvsments, and he certainly thought that in all renewals they should have a tenant based on the right, and that the rent should be value of the land, exempting all improvements of the preceding seven years.