Southend councillor speaks of ‘scandal’ as residents left with unpaid bills by property management company

The leader of Southend Council has promised to write to the secretary of state after it was revealed that a number of residents have been left with unpaid bills after a property management firm went into administration.

Rylands Associates, which was based in Lancaster House, Aviation Way, Southend, managed hundred of homes but ceased trading in July, blaming “tough trading conditions” for the closure.

Speaking at a council meeting on Thursday night, Councillor Matt Dent (LAB), claimed that residents living on Collier Way in Southend have been left facing the bills they thought had been paid.

He said: “Over the summer the property management company Rylands Associates went into administration.

“What has received significantly less attention is that in a number of cases and I point particularly to my ward in Collier Way, residents whose properties were managed by Rylands Associates have found that their utility bills have not been paid, despite the fact they had paid the money for it to the property management service.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail on this on the grounds there is legal proceedings underway and a national crime agency investigation but I think what we’ve been left with here is a scandal that these people are in this position, and there is little regulation to stop it.

“Indeed I worry that there are far more residents that we are not that I am not aware of across town in this situation.”

Cllr Dent called on council leader Ian Gilbert to “make the strongest representations to the Government to ensure this cannot occur again” including calling for new regulation that will “plug this hole in the regulatory landscape”.

Council leader Cllr Ian Gilbert said: “I have brought this to the attention of officer to see whether there is anything the council can do to improve the situation for our residents.

“But given that regulation in general is a live political issue I am quite happy to set out the facts of this case to the secretary of state and ask him to take them into account when look at this issue.”

Many of the properties managed by Rylands Associates in Southend were taken over by Gateway Property Management.

A spokesperson for the National Crime Agency said: “The NCA does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of specific investigations.”

The problems have come two months after it was revealed residents on a housing estate in Colchester also reported difficulties in the wake of the firm’s closure after a road near to their homes was left unadopted with no one to maintain it.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter