LANDLORDS face a £700 charge per property for a new licence in a new clampdown on squalid homes, crime and antisocial behaviour.

Southend Council is poised to press ahead with its new selective licensing scheme to toughen up measures against owners which allow properties to fall into disrepair.

Council leader, Ian Gilbert, pointed to roads in the centre of Southend dogged with “persistent and significant” problems caused by crime, antisocial behaviour and poorly-managed accommodation.

The existing register for landlords is voluntary, but under the new scheme, landlords would pay up to £700 per rented property for a licence that could be withdrawn standards slip.

Mr Gilbert, who has specific responsibility for housing, said: “I think it’s a big issue in Southend, particularly central Southend .

“The results of a survey as part of the consultation show more than half the respondents said they quality of housing and poor conditions was a significant problem.

“At the moment, the council can take action in the most serious of cases. But I think there is quite a lot of other properties which do cause problems.

“But the simple register of all landlords in the area and making sure they meet the minimum criteria is, in itself, I think a massive help.

“Anti-social behaviour is a very significant issue. There’s always the argument about how much is about housing issues and what’s down to other factors, but we have got larger properties that aren’t being managed properly, and that’s a contributory factor.”

On Tuesday, Southend Council’s cabinet is set to discuss spearheading the scheme, initially focussing on four wards most affected by poor quality rented housing.

Selected roads in Kursaal, Milton, Chalkwell and Victoria wards with “significant and persistent problems” caused by antisocial behaviour, crime and poor living conditions will be targeted.

However, the South Essex Alliance of Landlords (SEAL) believes the wording of the consultation and survey was unfair to landlords.

Critical - Judith Codarin from SEAL

Critical - Judith Codarin from SEAL

Judith Codarin, secretary, said: “There were questions with basically one answer like would you like to improve your home and would you like less antisocial behaviour? There is only one answer to questions like that. No one is going to say they want worse housing and more antisocial behaviour.

“We’ve tried to move forward on this but the way they have done it is totally political. Everyone wants these things but the way it is being pushed through is very inappropriate timing when we are all trying to catch up with issues around the pandemic.”

Mr Gilbert added: “I understand that good landlords may feel aggravated by the charge, but we will do everything we can to minimise the burden on good landlords but the current voluntary system that’s been in place for a long time is clearly not working and as a result the responses from the survey show it’s not actually improving the quality of housing as much as we would want.”