A grass-roots landlord group in Essex has vowed to continue working to raise standards despite the imminent arrival of selective licensing in their local area and council funding cuts.

Although the Southend llicensing scheme has been deferred until next spring, the South Essex Alliance of Landlords and Residents (SEAL) is still leading by example and has urged landlords in other towns and cities to gain a collective voice.

Southend’s landlords got together to oppose selective licensing when it was first suggested back in 2011, as they were also frustrated there wasn’t anywhere to go for advice about improving standards.

They managed to win a reprieve and set up a steering group to share information about topics such as anti-social behaviour and rubbish collection. Members aimed to demonstrate to the council that problems could be dealt with satisfactorily, leaving it to concentrate efforts on non-SEAL members.

Funding

It set up a scheme whereby members put SEAL identification stickers in their properties so that renters could call a helpline to tackle anti-social behaviour and also won community funding which helped pay for subsidised bin stores. The group is also an effective lobbying oirganisation, often quoted in local media on PRS issues.

“It was a way of educating landlords,” secretary Judith Codarin (main pic) tells LandlordZONE. “We did it for the good of the sector and proved how many decent landlords there are.”

Unfortunately, council cuts and staff changes, as well as a renewed push towards licensing, meant that by 2018 there were no longer the resources to continue the partnership in the same form.

The group was again forced to oppose the new proposal, questioning whether it would have any impact on bad landlords.

Despite the set-back, Codarin believes there are now stronger lines of communication.

“Having a collective voice is really worthwhile because when the selective licensing issue came up again there were people we could talk to at the council,” she adds. “It’s given us confidence and the council values our input. We will continue to be as proactive as we can.”

PIC credits: Shutterstock/SEAL/Southend Echo

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