Selective licensing scheme proposed to protect private tenants

A licensing scheme which would allow the local authority to introduce licences for privately rented properties, could be approved in four neighbourhoods across the Borough.

Green front door with brass letterbox and handle

Selective licensing is intended to address the impact of sub-standard rented properties and to improve housing conditions. Following detailed research commissioned in September 2019, the council’s Cabinet will discuss (item 7, Tuesday 23 February) proposals to see a selection of roads in Kursaal, Milton, Chalkwell and Victoria designated under the selective licensing scheme. A map of the proposed areas can be found in appendix F of the cabinet report.

These neighbourhood areas have been selected following a comprehensive consultation period – with results showing overwhelming support for the proposals - and as they meet certain criteria which is required before the local authority can put a selective licensing scheme in place. The aim of the scheme would be to see a reduction of the problems which led to the scheme being recommended for implementation in these areas, including:

  • significant and persistent problems caused by antisocial behaviour.
  • poor property conditions.
  • high levels of deprivation.
  • high levels of crime.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council with a responsibility for housing, said: “Across the Borough, we have a high number of privately rented properties. Unfortunately, some landlords neglect these properties and due to fear of retaliatory evictions, tenants are frequently reluctant to seek improvements, either through the landlord or local authority engagement.

“The selective licensing scheme will allow us as the local authority greater powers to ensure private landlords are held accountable for their properties. Providing high quality housing which meets the needs of all of our residents and fostering a sense of pride and joy is a priority of this administration and this scheme would be a step in the right direction for tenants who feel they don’t have a voice. Increasing the standards of the private rented sector not only benefits the tenants, but the surrounding community as a whole.

“The consultation responses provided overwhelming support for the implementation of selective licensing in Southend, and I am pleased to see this being presented to Cabinet colleagues.

“Increase in demand and limited supply puts incredible pressure on tenants to accept poor standard living conditions, which is completely unacceptable. There are many other factors which feed into the scheme, including anti-social behaviour and deprivation levels. These are complex issues and ones that, with the right support from partner agencies and the Government, can be reduced and in some cases removed entirely. This is not an overnight fix, but this scheme will go a long way in protecting private tenants in Southend-on-Sea.”

Published: 16th February 2021

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