Two illegal flats in Westcliff are to be torn down after they were found to provide renters with only one window.
The flats, in Hamlet Court Road, were found by Southend Council during a separate inquiry into a balcony which was situated on the first floor of an authorised block of flats.
The four-storey block, which comprises 12 flats and two shops, was supposed to accommodate 14 parking spaces, including four within the ground floor of the building but rather than retain the four spaces on the ground floor, the landlord chose to transform them into two flats without getting planning approval.
And due to the space being designed for parking, each flat only had a single window.
In 1999 planning permission was given for a former warehouse and shops to be transformed into 12 flats and as a condition, the space at the bottom was supposed to have been for four parking spaces but it was found that the two flats had been built at some point in the recent past and that these flats both breached the planning conditions which required them to be for parking only.
Both flats were found to be substandard in size, they faced directly onto a shared parking area and they had no facility space and it was collectively agreed that enforcement action should be taken against the flats, as well as the illegal balcony, which meant that the landlord had just four months to remove them.
Clearly, the properties were not fit for habitation and the property with only one window did not meet building laws and was not standard for anyone to live in and this is why the council intends to start a landlord licencing scheme, which could see private landlords in designated areas paying £750 for a licence every five years.
Under the terms the licence, landlords would be expected to follow council regulations or face fines of up to £30,000 and banning orders stopping them from letting properties.
However, after taking down the flats, the developer should be barred from any additional developments in Southend and perhaps the slippery landlord should be taken to court so that the money can be recovered from all the rent that the tenants paid out for obtaining money under false pretences, but then I wonder who was renting them, and how many people were sleeping under one roof?