Southend rent hike fears over bid for better homes

Southend tenants could be left to pick up the bill for a new scheme which sees landlords paying out hundreds of pounds to drive up the “quality” of housing.

The Selective Licensing Scheme, which would be run by Southend Council, would ask private landlords to pay a fee costing at least £668 per property for five years.

Other areas across the country have seen these costs passed onto tenants in the form of higher rents – something council officials have admitted on consultation webinars.

But there are also fears it will force ‘good’ landlords, particularly those with large portfolios, to sell up as the costs would be so high.

Now a consultation has been launched to look at the scheme, which the council says will help to tackle anti-social behaviour and dangerous housing conditions.

Thomas Neale, from Amos Estates, a rental agency in Hadleigh, says he isn’t sure how much of a benefit this scheme will have.

He said: “My reservation is that there is going to be a cost implication to landlords and the government have been driving quality up with a number of improvements already.

“This could be a money making exercising – it could turn out to be very expensive quickly. I just wonder if this is a step that is perhaps unnecessary I would hate to think landlords would leave the market as it is getting a bit too expensive.”

The scheme is said to help landlords have a more transparent environment which allows the same standard of accommodation and management to be delivered across all private rented homes.

Initially discussed by councillors at the end of 2019, the scheme was put back during the pandemic.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council with a responsibility for housing, said: “Delivering a selective licensing scheme that drives up the quality of housing in Southend and protects tenants is a key priority for us.

“ In order to take this forward, we really need people involved in the private rental sector to help us by completing this survey.”

The consultation closes on Monday January 11, 2021.

Visit: https://yoursay.southend.gov.uk/selective-licensing-southend

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Angela Sharda

Local Democracy Reporter