A PLAN to root out rogue landlords has been branded “grossly unfair”.

Southend Council wants to spend £50,000 launching a licensing scheme targetting landlords in problem areas within the borough.

These are summed up as areas experiencing “antisocial behaviour problems, crime and deprivation associated with poorly managed private rented accommodation”.

A specific report – by Faith Nassuna, projects and policy support officer at the council – will go before the councillors recommending a scheme which would see landlords in designated areas paying £750 for a licence, every five years.

Such schemes can only be implemented in areas where there are high levels of private-rented properties such as Southend town centre.

And landlords who don’t comply could face penalties of up to £30,000 – and banning orders preventing them from letting properties.

Judith Codarin, secretary of the South East Alliance of Landlords, said: “This is definitely not fair on landlords who have to make huge efforts to fulfill all their legal obligations.

“It is very easy to identify the exact places causing the trouble. The council has effective laws but they are just not using them.

“To charge perfectly good landlords even more fees when they are doing all they can would be grossly unfair.”

The alliance was set up more than five years ago when the then administration threatened to licence all landlords across the borough.

The self-regulating group helped identify problem landlords and launched a number of street blitzes to tidy problem properties, with some limited success.

Mrs Codarin, 73, from Southchurch, whose family runs 18 properties in Southend, added: “To my mind this is going to be a very expensive, negative exercise and who is going to pay? The tenants will be paying because landlords are being squeezed to the limit.”

Martin Ransom, head of property management at Pace letting and estate agents, said: “I have always maintained a full partnership with alliance and the council has always been a better option than selective licensing.

“I don’t disagree that there are issues in the town that’s why we got behind the alliance but the only way landlords can deal with antisocial behaviour is to issue section 21 notices and evict tenants but they are unlikely to move out of the areas.

“Having a partnership with all the agencies to tackle the root of the problem I feel is much more beneficial than licensing landlords.”

In March the Echo revealed Southend Council received 596 complaints relating to the condition of private rented homes in 2017/18 but served just 12 improvement notices.

Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “This report only sets out the first steps of evidence gathering in a complex legal process. There are areas in the town, particularly the town centre , with poorly maintained housing and its associated problems are serious.

“The council has tried for a number of years under different administrations, to address the problems using existing powers but improvements have not been significant enough.”