What are the benefits of Selective Licensing?
There is a review taking place in parts of Southend on Sea , to see if Selective Licensing would be a good scheme to be introduced. Parts of Kursaal, Milton and Chalkwell wards are being looked at to see if it would help the local communities, in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, improve the quality of accommodation and help the general areas to improve. Selective Licensing requires owners of privately rented dwellings to pay for a license.
Under the scheme, every residential premises which is privately let to one or more tenants – subject to certain exemptions – must be licensed, if it is within the designated area. The relevant fee must also be paid.
With this in mind the council have put this scheme out for consultation. Roads in the borough have been suggested, residents and landlords are being asked for their views on the scheme.
What are the benefits?
- Reduction in anti-social behaviour
- Conditions on license relating to gas safety/smoke alarms
- Anti-social behaviour clause to be signed at commencement of each new tenancy
- Improved living conditions
- Fewer complaints
- Better behaved tenants; longer tenancies, potentially increased rent levels and improved property value (over time).
The consultation is showing that there is support for the scheme, but that landlords are also very concerned too.
I think the principle is good, to bring up the quality of tenants living in Southend properties and landlords do have a big part to play in that.
Landlord’s concerns range, from whether the license costs too much, the effectiveness of policing, the need for CCTV, to council tenants just as culpable for ASB. There maybe some valid arguments from landlords and the main thing is, that we the council and the landlords work in tandem to deliver an effective policy that reduces ASB and helps improve the community for all our residents.
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/
I think it is definitely a step in the right direction for Southend Council with the proposals for a selective licensing scheme to hopefully start in Kursaal and Milton wards.
What does Selective licensing mean?
Selective licensing means that the council will ultimately have more power to implement standards for decent living. If landlords do not comply with a set of standards the council could close down the property. This is particularly welcomed news in Kursaal ward where there is at present a high proportion of shared accommodation, flats and bedsits.
As well as this landlords would have to ensure that their property is well maintained and cared for otherwise they could be fined.
The other side to this is, that a landlord must also take responsibility for the behaviour of the tenants and therefore cannot just dump antisocial individuals and forget about them which then leads to problems for the neighbours.
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