New rules to crack down on Southend’s rogue landlords

Tough new rules are set to be rolled out across the whole of Southend in a bid to crack down on rogue landlords and protect vulnerable tenants.

The scheme aims to reduce the number of rented properties with a serious risk to health and safety, such as mould and damp, and ensure energy efficiency and warmth equality.

Southend Council is set to approve the private rented sector housing enforcement policy, which will run in conjunction with a landlord licensing scheme, which has been rolled out in some areas.

Parts of the city centre now require landlords to pay for a license, which can be removed if tenants are not provided with a decent standard of accommodation.

The new policy covers the whole of the city, however.

Introducing the scheme to cabinet on Thursday, Ian Gilbert, councillor responsible for Economic Recovery, Regeneration and Housing, said: “This represents the bringing together of our policies and enforcement within the private rented sector.

“Standards in the private rented sector are a huge issue in parts of the town so it’s a very important document.

“If agreed, this will be subject to a six-week public consultation so this is not the final word on the policy.

“It sets out a number of points in terms if how we are looking to toughen our approach to enforcement such as enforcing against hazards and toughening our response under a number of other related legislation.

“This sits alongside other work which is already ongoing in terms of rolling out the selective licensing programme but that only applies to certain parts of the city while this looks at our enforcement policy across the whole city.”

Bosses also hope the new rules will improve standards in HMOs.

Enforcement under the policy will only commence once tenants have notified their landlords of the problem, and given them an opportunity to rectify the problem.

Martin Terry, councillor responsible for public protection, urged tenants with bullying landlords to report them to the council after concerns were raised some tenants would be reluctant to complain for fearing losing their homes.

He added: “These are all things to help vulnerable people and people dealing with challenging situations and challenging landlords.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter