A CRACKDOWN on rogue landlords in Swindon is coming.

The borough council’s cabinet will be discussing a new policy on tackling private landlords who don’t keep their property up to scratch or who behave badly to their tenants.

The policy says: “The council has a vital role to play in tackling criminal, rogue and irresponsible property managers and in preventing them from profiting from their non-compliance. In doing so, the council aims to achieve as level a playing field as possible for all landlords and property managers.”

The authority has the powers to inspect privately rented properties: “The council will request and demand information, carry out inspections, process licence applications, help bring empty properties back into use, encourage and promote good practice, investigate potential offences and where appropriate, take enforcement action; including the prosecution of offenders and the imposition of financial penalties. In all cases, officers will seek to ensure that offenders do not profit from their non-compliance.”

The policy says the worst offenders will be targeted first. That includes houses divided into flats and bedsits, which must be licensed.

One of the weapons the policy says the council has is naming and shaming landlords, especially if it has to take enforcement, or legal action: “We will endeavour, in all cases, to secure media coverage of hearings in the courts where we are seeking the prosecution of offenders. We will always seek to publicise offending and the punishment of such, in any way possible, as part of its role in deterring others from offending.”

Coun Cathy Martyn, the cabinet member responsible for housing and public safety is in political control of the teams who will be dealing with rogue landlords.

She said: “The report to cabinet sets out what owners, landlords, their agents and tenants of private sector properties can expect from us. The policy is proportionate, reflecting the nature, scale and seriousness of any breach or non-compliance.

“Our main aim through this policy is to keep tenants in the private rented sector safe and, where required, to improve housing conditions so we protect and improve the lives of those tenants. We’ll do this by making sure any enforcement is transparent and that we apply a consistent approach. We aim to ensure that all enforcement activity we undertake is targeted at the properties and people that pose the greatest risk to people’s health and safety, to ensure that the most serious risks are targeted first.”

The meeting is at 6pm on Wednesday at the civic offices, and opens with a public forum where members of the public can ask questions.