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Anger as Southend landlords' permit plan is ditched
8:14am Tuesday 26th June 2012 in Southend
FURIOUS residents have criticised council bosses for shelving plans to introduce permits for Southend’s landlords, in a move aimed at cracking down on nightmare tenants.
Following 18 months of increasingly bitter debate, Tory leaders at Southend Council voted to put the controversial selective licensing scheme on ice last week.
The idea, which would have required property owners to pay up to £600 per home before they could rent it out, was designed to tackle irresponsible landlords who allowed their tenants to run riot.
The decision to scrap the scheme, in favour of a self-regulated system preferred by landlords, has angered some residents.
Freddie Dawkins, who led a campaign backing the scheme as co-ordinator of the Milton Ward Community Group, said: “The council fully admits the overwhelming response to selective licensing from the public has been positive.
“Why then should we go against the wishes of the majority, and allow the landlords to continue self-regulation, when we know it doesn’t work?”
Graham Ray, 59, of Crowstone Avenue, Westcliff, whose home is within the zone which would have been targeted by selective licensing, added: “Once again, the council have paid lip service to the agents and landlords and ignored the pleas of residents.
“Shame on them.”
At the moment, only shared houses with three or more storeys, and two or more separate households of at least five people, have to be licensed.
Under selective licensing, the landlords of any rented home would have had to pay up to £600 for each property.
Landlords who had certain criminal convictions, previous poor management records or had ignored council demands to maintain their homes could have been rejected, leaving them unable to let to tenants.
The plan was to initially target three wards – Milton, Kursaal and Chalkwell – and then roll the permits out to the rest of the town if they were successful.
The new self-regulation scheme will be borough wide from the start, but also voluntary to join.
Members will display a sticker in the windows of their homes and promise to deal with issues such as antisocial behaviour and fly-tipping outside properties.
Council bosses believe they could then concentrate on cracking down on those landlords who refused to join it.
But Henry Williams, 54, of Cheltenham Road, Southend, said: “I can’t see this being any different.
“The landlords will look after themselves, and the bad ones will carry on being bad.”