AN MP has hit out at plans to slap landlords with a £700 charge for a property licence in Southend.

James Duddridge, Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, said the planned selected licencing scheme for parts of Southend.

The council is pressing ahead with the plans which it says it to clamp down on poor housing in the borough and toughen measures against owners.

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is voluntary, but under the new scheme, landlords would pay up to £700 per rented property for a licence that could be withdrawn standards slip.

The idea will be discussed at the council's cabinet this week. 

Mr Duddridge said: “Southend Council already has the powers to tackle rogue landlords, and I am afraid this proposal is just a tax on the town’s good landlords. It will disincentivise new landlords from coming to the marketplace and give a reason for existing landlords to get out of the sector.

“This will lead to a reduction in the number of properties available to rent in Southend and in turn push up rent prices for residents.

"I am sure the council’s intentions are good, but this proposal will just drive the very behaviours they are hoping to avoid.”

Tenants unable to resolve an issue with their landlord can contact Southend Council's Private Sector Housing Team, who can serve legal notices requiring any necessary work to improve or make the property safe.