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Southend andlords permit scheme in doubt
5:00am Saturday 16th June 2012 in News
CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce permits for Southend’s landlords are set to be scrapped.
After 18 months of bitter debate, bosses at Southend Council are expected to sound the death knell for the controversial selective licensing scheme when they meet next week.
The idea, which would have required property owners to pay up to £600 per home before they could rent it out, has divided residents and landlords.
When it was first proposed in January 2011, the scheme, designed to ensure both accommodation and tenants met a minimum standard, was widely backed by councillors and residents who were fed up with antisocial behaviour in their streets.
But, with threats of legal challenges ringing in their ears, council chiefs have now recommended the project is shelved for at least a year.
In its place, landlords have suggested a compromise system which would require them to regulate themselves under the banner of a new organisation – the South East Alliance of Landlords, Agents and Residents.
Tony Prior, the chairman of the alliance, said: “We have put forward a proposal which we hope the council will accept.
“It will allow us to deal with the issues which selective licensing was supposed to tackle, but in a less confrontational way.
“We want to work with the council, not against it.”
At the moment, only shared houses with three or more storeys, two or more separate households of at least five people, have to be licensed. 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.
Jacqui Lansley, the council’s head of community strategy and development, said: “The proposal will improve relationships between the council and landlords, while minimising risk to the council and achieving the bulk of the objectives of licensing.”