LANDLORDS who run poorly-maintained flats and bedsits in Southend are to be targeted in a new crackdown.

Southend Council’s cabinet will next week be recommended to back changes to its licensing scheme, which sets basic standards for all bedsits across the borough.

In 2009, the cabinet agreed to a licensing programme regulating all rented homes with shared kitchens or bathrooms with three or more tenants, known as houses in multiple occupation. The council now wants to stop the blanket scheme and instead adapt the licensing regime to clamp down specifically on landlords who allow properties to become rundown or attract antisocial behaviour.

The changes would give the council tougher powers to drive up standards, and could enable the council to close rented properties down if licenses were refused.

Problem houses in multiple occupation in York Road and properties in the Milton and Kursaal wards – where there is a high proportion of poorly-managed flats and bedsits – will be first on the council’s hitlist when the new licensing scheme starts in August.

Simon Leftley, director of adult social services, said in his report to cabinet: “Having taken independent advice, officers are recommending the council introduces selective licensing, initially in parts of Milton and Kursaal wards.

“Selective licensing may be rolled out to other parts of Southend, subject to an evaluation of the impact of the initial schemes.”

Selective licensing has been deemed to be better, as it can be used to tackle antisocial behaviour as well as properties in disrepair.

If approved, it will begin around York Road from this August and consultation with landlords, residents and busineses would begin in January.