A new selective licensing scheme in Southend has been put on hold after councillors complained they lacked details about how it would work.

The scheme got the go-ahead in March and was scheduled to start on 1st December but has now been referred back to cabinet after a narrow vote at a full council meeting.

Councillors previously voiced fears that the council already struggles to administer its HMO licensing scheme.

Conservative group leader Tony Cox told the meeting: “We haven’t got any detailed recommendations on how we are going to introduce the scheme. What we haven’t got is how the scheme is going to be administered, but if we are going to have a scheme it’s got to be compliant and robust and all the options have got to be looked at.”

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Last month, Conservative councillor Meg Davidson told The Leigh Times that she had concerns around costs and staffing of the scheme, which is set to cover all private rented homes within Milton, Kursaal, Victoria and Chalkwell wards.

Inspections struggle

Said Davidson (pictured): “To license and inspect 3,500 or more properties is a huge undertaking and it does worry me that when you look at the HMO licensing scheme, it’s been a struggle to do about 100.”

A public consultation earlier this year garnered an impressive 1,792 responses, two thirds (68%) of which agreed with the proposal. However, 20% strongly disagreed – the majority of whom were landlords/agents (74%).

Many believed the costs would be passed on to tenants or that it would penalise good landlords while allowing bad landlords to operate.

The South Essex Alliance of Landlords and Residents (SEAL) opposes selective licensing and was originally set up to coordinate a response.

This has evolved into a formal partnership with the council to improve the standard of PRS accommodation and reduce anti-social behaviour throughout SEAL managed properties.

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