Southend landlords in the dark over selective licensing delay

Landlords hoping to get an early bird discount for a new licensing scheme in Southend are not being told it has been put temporarily on hold.

Southend Council’s selective licensing scheme is designed to ensure privately rented properties are in kept in good condition. In addition to providing a minimum standard for tenants, it will also tackle rogue landlords who risk losing their licences.

The scheme was set to launch on December 1 but Conservative councillors referred the scheme back to cabinet to get more detail about how it will work. That delay means the project, which was set to cost landlords £688, will not go ahead until March.

It will affect nine neighbourhoods within Milton, Kursaal, Victoria and Chalkwell wards, where there are high levels of deprivation and crime.

Some landlords have already signed up for an early bird discount and others are still doing so unaware of the delay.

Josie Hawes, 20, from Billericay, runs a family business which has ten rental properties in Southend, one of which is within the licensing area. She said: “When you sign up on the website it charges you £3 and there is nothing to say it is on hold. I was told they were still deciding how much to charge and would take the rest when they decide.

“They kept saying it wasn’t on hold and it is a legal requirement. I don’t know when the rest of the charge is coming out of my account or how much it will be.”

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “Selective Licensing was given the green light to go ahead in neighbourhoods within certain wards within Southend at council in March. The slight delay to the scheme is to provide some further detail which council asked for in November, and therefore referred the matter back to cabinet. We hope to have everything resolved and provide assurance to councillors before Christmas.

“In the meantime, those landlords who have applied since December 1 have been charged a nominal fee to recognise their application, but until approval from council we cannot provide an accurate cost. We will update landlords as soon as we are able.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter