An argument is brewing with landlords angry at the wording of a council licensing consultation.
Southend council wants landlords to pay a £700 per property selective licence fee.
Council leader Ian Gilbert has told local media that areas in the centre of the town had “persistent and significant” problems caused by crime, antisocial behaviour and poorly-managed accommodation.
But the local landlord group - SEAL - claims the consultation is geared against landlords.
Judith Codarin, secretary, tells the Southend Echo: “There were questions with basically one answer like would you like to improve your home and would you like less antisocial behaviour? There is only one answer to questions like that. No one is going to say they want worse housing and more antisocial behaviour.
“We’ve tried to move forward on this but the way they have done it is totally political. Everyone wants these things but the way it is being pushed through is very inappropriate timing when we are all trying to catch up with issues around the pandemic.”
SEAL was initially formed to coordinate a response to Southend council’s plans.
It had entered into a partnership with the council to improve the standard of privately rented properties, and reduce anti-social behavior throughout SEAL managed properties.
Prior to the dispute over wording, the landlord body stated on its website: “SEAL has its own Code of Conduct to follow as well as a Complaints Procedure in conjunction with Southend Borough Council. Being a member of SEAL already gives agents and landlords huge benefits in this unique partnership, an innovative landmark initiative, being closely monitored by other Councils around the country.
“SEAL also benefits the tenant through the identification stickers that Members put into their rented or managed properties. The tenant or resident is able to contact SEAL using the phone help line to tackle ASB at the property.”