More than 300 homes in Southend have “significant hazards” – including mould, sub-standard electrical safety and a risk of “structural collapse” – as the council clamps down on potentially dodgy landlords.
As part of the landlord licensing scheme, launched in March 2021 to target squalid homes, crime and anti-social behaviour, the council has been carrying out checks on rented homes in the borough.
At a full council meeting last week, former council leader Ian Gilbert revealed 324 homes were found to have significant hazards after 614 “compliance visits” were undertaken.
Council officers found damp and mould in 116 properties, 48 were excessively cold and seven homes were found to contain carbon monoxide and other fuel combustion products.
Four were overcrowded, 11 had poor hygiene, pests and refuse while 15 properties were open to entry by intruders.
A number of safety issues were also identified, including falls on stairs, 88 falls between levels and problems with sub-standard electrical safety in 42 homes.
Alarmingly 14 properties were identified as being at risk of “structural collapse”.
Landlords were initially sceptical of the scheme, but Judith Codarin, secretary of the South Essex Alliance of Landlords, welcomed the progress of the scheme.
Ms Codarin, who runs a number of rental properties in Southend, said: “I think they are doing the right thing. When we have a landlord meetings, the council officers attend the meetings. The organisers are very practical. The fee has been manageable and taken in two parts which has helped enormously. They took notice of what experienced landlords said at meetings.
“It was us reasonable landlords saying we the easy targets we’re going to do our best anyway, just go for the bad ones. I think it’s pretty positive. It’s not an indication that all landlords are bad. It’s an indication they are going for the right ones. These results I would say are pretty good. They’ve been doing the right thing with selective licensing. They’ve really gone for the naughty ones.”
The council has sent 240 non-compliance letters and have served formal notices. These include eight civil penalty notices, four improvement notices and three emergency prohibition notices.
The landlord licence scheme – which charges landlords £735 per property- was launched in selected roads in Kursaal, Milton, Chalkwell and Victoria wards with “significant and persistent problems” caused by antisocial behaviour, crime and poor living conditions were targeted.