New powers against bad landlords could net Swindon Borough Council £50,000 a year.

And housing officers want tenants to tip them off about exploitative or negligent landlords.

But the cabinet member for housing and public safety, at Euclid Street Coun Cathy Martyn emphasises that the aim of the new powers and policy is not to make money - which can only be used on more housing enforcement action anyway - but to protect tenants.

Labour’s spokeswoman on housing on the council, Coun Emma Bushell questioned her cabinet opposite member on a new policy agreed by the Conservative administration at the council’s scrutiny committee meeting.

She said: “I’m not sure of the intent behind the new policy and I’d like reassurance there is a plan in place to ensure landlords are compliant with the law. Are we actively pursuing rogue landlords?”

Council officer Damon Green said the new policy changed the balance of enforcement: “Up to now we prosecuted higher offences, which cost us money to do, and we’d dispose of lower ones. Now we can impose civil penalties, and any money we make from that will be ploughed back into more enforcement action.”

Asked how much he expected this would realise in cash, Mr Green said: “I would think about £50,000 next year” and Coun Martyn added: “The priority is public protection - that’s what drives the work of officers.”

One key area is unlicensed houses under multiple occupation.

Coun Jim Robbins asked: “Are you expecting a big rise in prosecutions?”

Coun Martyn said: “ We want to work with HMO landlords before we get to the enforcement stage. Our aim is to make properties safe and ensure that they’re safe.”

“We have good intelligence on HMOs and also want tenants to talk to us.”

Coun Bob Wright said: “People often don’t report on their landlords for fear of repercussions, you need to have some way of being able to report a rogue landlord confidentially.”