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Selective licensing scheme due to start
A selective landlord licensing scheme which aims to protect tenants and make the private rented sector fairer by improving conditions has now been introduced in nine neighbourhoods within parts of Southend-on-Sea.
The nine neighbourhoods within Milton, Kursaal, Victoria and Chalkwell wards have the poorest housing conditions in private rented property in the City. Many people in the area are also facing higher levels of deprivation, meaning that they are at greater risk of being taken advantage of by rogue landlords.
Now landlords who rent out a flat or house in these areas are required to be licenced. The scheme allows the council to set minimum standards for property management, including the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes, health and safety checks such as fire, gas and electrical, and that properties are kept to an appropriate standard.
At the same time, the licensing scheme benefits responsible landlords making sure that rogue landlords who avoid maintenance are not saving money by renting properties in poor conditions, and by further ensuring that they deal with tenants that cause anti-social behaviour or crime.
There is an early-bird discount for landlords who sign-up to the five year scheme sooner rather than later, with 25% off the normal £688 fee. These are one-off payments which will cover the entire five-year license.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “This licensing scheme gives us as the local authority, more powers to deal with tenancy issues including so-called ‘rogue’ landlords and equally, so-called ‘bad’ tenants. I think it will improve the quality of private rental market in Southend, something which seems to be more important as we are now a City.”
Benefits of the scheme include:
Introduction of a software solution so landlords can apply for their licence digitally and pay in two parts
Improved engagement with tenants, landlords and residents so people are aware of the scheme
Encouraging the raising of property standards and combined community responsibility through property inspections, and development of minimum standards
Plans being put in place to ensure partnership working with agencies including police, fire, community safety partnership, enforcement teams and more
Staff training plan to make sure teams are aware of all the powers the licence scheme grants them to ensure compliance.
The scheme was agreed at full council in March 2021 but at full council on Thursday 25 November 2021, further queries were raised about the finances of the scheme, delaying the official launch on 1 December 2021. At a special meeting of Cabinet on 24 January, councillors noted the report which explained how the concerns were being tackled and a decision was made to continue.
This scheme meets the council’s Southend 2050 ambitions of safe and well, pride and joy, active and involved in their communities and creating opportunity and prosperity by improving home standards.
Landlords affected will have until 31 March 2022 to apply for their licence.
To find out more about the scheme and if this affects your property, please visit our website: Selective Licensing Scheme – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
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