Local Councillors in Kursaal Ward have been working hard to support the case for Selective Licensing powers for Southend Council, which mean they would have the authority to close down residential properties that did not meet stringent standards.
Conservative Councillors have been pressing for the scheme to start in Kursaal ward, in order to protect the standard of living for residents. Under the scheme, landlords who do not comply with a certain set of defined standards could have their properties shut down to residential lettings. Properties with being rented out, as a minimum would have to be well maintained and cared for or they risk being subjected to fines. Private landlords would also have a duty to take responsibility for the behaviour of their tenants, so reducing the intake of antisocial individuals who are then left to their own devices likely causing problems for neighbours in the area.
The move is supported by Councillors Louise Burdett and Blaine Robin, and Conservative Ward Candidate Neil Austin who have been in communications with Councillor Anna Waite who holds the portfolio for Housing. It is recognised that this will be an important first move for improving the quality of living the town, particularly in more disadvantaged wards such as Kursaal where there is at present a high proportion of shared accommodation, flats and bedsits.
The Council plan to take this forward as a serious step, and Cllr Waite said “Whilst selective licensing will not turn the area around alone it is a first and important step to address the issues and I am very committed to get this up and running.”
“There will be a consultation and I urge residents to get involved in this and to let us know what they think. Within the selected area all rented properties, not just Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), can fall within the selective licensing remit if Anti Social Behaviour is present.”
Through his work in Kursaal Ward, Neil Austin has been able to identify the clear need for moves such as Selective Licensing to improve quality of life for many residents. “Having been out in the Ward, talking to local people, it is clear that something needs to be done to ensure landlords can take more responsibility for the people they take into their properties. It is also a basic right for people in the area to have a property that meets good quality standards and provides all the modern conveniences that can be expected. There is work to be done, and Selective Licensing is a positive first step to offering that protection to our community.”
Private residents concerned with the standard of their rented property, or with any housing issues can speak to their local councillors. Residents can also submit their views to the consultation when it opens at the Council’s website: http://www.southend.gov.uk/