A NORTH-EAST council is to launch a crackdown on the number of rogue and unfair landlords operating in two of its boroughs as it attempts to raise the standards of the privately rented sector.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, which said there were a number of landlords who continued to "flout" their responsibilities, will launch the scheme with landlords in Central Stockton and North Thornaby.

The scheme was given the green light during a meeting of the council's Cabinet last week.

Once operational it will be led by the Private Landlords Supporting Stockton group (PLUSS) and will require landlords to either agree to a Code of Conduct or face a "robust inspection regime" if they choose not to.

Making the announcement, councillor Bob Cook, council leader at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, criticised those landlords that had failed to meet their responsibilities.

He said: “This new membership scheme will build on the encouraging progress being made in these areas by the respective Central Stockton and North Thornaby Community Partnerships.

“The partnerships have brought together the council, police, fire brigade, big landlords like Thirteen, and voluntary organisations to work with local people with the simple aim of making these areas better places to live.

“A number of initiatives, including clean-ups and transforming alleyways into clean and colourful community spaces, have already had a positive impact.

"Now we want to take this further and work with PLUSS to drive up standards in the private rented sector.

“The majority of private landlords are responsible and willing to work together with us to make these areas better places to live. Collectively, the landlords who make up PLUSS own around two-thirds of the private sector housing stock in these two areas.

"Unfortunately there are still some who continue to flout their responsibilities by not taking care of their properties and failing to manage their tenants properly and ultimately they bring these areas down.”

The council said landlords would have to agree to the Code of Conduct, written by the council, which set out how they handled complaints, tenant vetting and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Cook said: “We want all private landlords to buy into this and we’ll be challenging those who don’t.

“Of course, all members will be subjected to inspection but we will be prioritising inspections of properties owned by landlords who don’t join.

“And if we find their standards to be unacceptable, we will take action.

"Our priority here is the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents.”