Concerns over Southend landlord licensing scheme

Concerns have been raised around costs and staffing involved in Southend’s landlord licensing scheme aiming to improve rented homes across the borough.

Applications from private landlords for a five-year licence – costing £688 – are set to open in December.

However, the scheme has now been sent to full council for further debate after councillors raised concerns on the finances and staffing needs involved.

Meg Davidson, Conservative councillor for Prittlewell ward, said “We are asked to endorse and note the financial details of the scheme, but there is hardly any financial details. There’s an awful lot unknown.

“We accept there’s quite a lot of things that are hard to predict but we don’t know the cost the IT system, we haven’t figures for staffing and I’m concerned about the capacity. Have we estimated the workload?

“To license and inspect 3,500 or more properties is a huge undertaking and it does worry me that when you look at the HMO licensing scheme it’s been a struggle to do about hundred.”

The scheme is being introduced in nine neighbourhoods within Milton, Kursaal, Victoria and Chalkwell wards, because of anti-social behaviour, poor conditions, and deprivation and crime.

Despite the concerns, Councillor Matt Dent, (Lab, Kursaal), said the scheme was an important one that must be pursued.

He said: “My ward is almost entirely covered by this proposed scheme and it something my residents not only desperately want to see but need to see.”

In one instance, the councillor has been contacted by a resident who lives below a privately rented flat and have battled against leaks and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Dent added: “The state of repair of the flat above them is atrocious and they frequently have water leaks down into their property causing damage.

“The landlord is obfuscating, is refusing to engage, is refusing to remedy the problems that exist.

“He is denying outright there are problems. There is very little left that can be done but this policy this licensing policy would offer a distinct stick to persuade the landlord to abide by his duties and if he didn’t, then there is a clear sanction.”

The scheme has been approved but on Thursday the policy and resources committee referred it to full council over the concerns.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter