Selective Licensing Launch to Cost £50,000

10/10/19

Southend Council has recently earmarked £50,000 to fund the launch of a landlord licensing scheme, within the Southend Borough.

Citing problem areas exhibiting anti-social behaviour, higher than average crime and deprivation, the council are seeking to target poorly managed private rented properties, by vetting the landlords. The scheme will be partially funded by the imposition of a license fee of £750, payable every five years.

The scheme is also likely to fine non-compliant landlords – similar schemes elsewhere have seen fines as high as £30,000 – and even ban persistent offenders from letting properties.

The South East Alliance of Landlords, set up to work collaboratively with Southend Council and act as a bridge between landlords and local authorities, have referenced recent research from the RLA (Residential Landlords Association) that found over 150 Acts of Parliament and more than 400 regulations affecting landlords in the private rented sector.

Furthermore, the RLA says councils should fully use the enforcement powers already granted to them by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, ranging from civil penalties, rent repayment orders, banning orders and the introduction of a database for rogue landlords and letting agents, rather than rely on Licensing Schemes to regulate landlords in addition to these powers.

Martin Ransom, Head of Property Management at Pace Lettings and Estate Agents, said “I don’t disagree that there are issues in the town, that’s why we got behind the Alliance, but the only way to do deal with anti-social behaviour is to issue section 21 notices in order to evict tenants – but of course they’re unlikely to move out of the area.”

Southend Council already has the necessary tools to tackle poor housing management and conditions. Rather than introduce a bureaucratic licensing scheme that will see scarce resources wasted processing applications, it should continue to direct these limited resources at identifying private rented properties and taking effective enforcement action, where necessary.

Despite this, it was recently revealed by the Southend Echo, that Southend Council received 596 complaints relating to the condition of private rented homes in 2017/2018, but served just 12 improvement notices.

We see landlords, especially those with properties outside the licence area will become risk-averse in terms of the tenants they let to. Tenant problems such as anti-social behaviour are impossible for the landlord to address alone and landlords will not wish to risk a breach of licensing conditions that may affect their ability to let properties elsewhere. Some may seek to evict already challenging tenants. This could mean additional costs to other council services, as they pick up the pieces created by the disruption to the lives of already vulnerable tenants.

There are alternatives to licensing. We support a system of self-regulation for landlords whereby compliant landlords join a co-regulation scheme, such as SEAL, which deals with standards and complaints in the first instance, while those outside the scheme remain under the scope of local authority enforcement. 

Professional advice, qualified staff:

If you’re unsure about what the impact of selective licensing could mean for you, or are unhappy with your existing agent, come and talk to us.  

Call us on 01702 445 600 or visit our main office in Southend, located at 461 - 463 Southchurch Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2PH and our team will be able to help you.

 


Martin Ransom is Office Manager at Pace, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent.

With nearly 25 years experience in the property industry, Martin is well placed in his role as Branch Manager for Pace.

After joining the business in 2010 Martin took it upon himself to foster excellent customer service among the team and this continues to position Pace as a leader in its field today.


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