Residents who set up a website to highlight the "shameful" state of some rented properties in a Westcountry resort have given a "cautious welcome" to a £100,000 scheme to tackle rogue landlords.
Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver has agreed to the investment after he met members of the Melville Hill Community Group, who set up the Tor Shame website. It featured images of badly kept properties and rubbish which had been allowed to spill over. The group agreed to take down the website after the Mayor offered talks.
Nick Burleigh, spokesman for the community group, said the blight of poorly managed properties was a particular problem around the town centres of Torquay and Paignton, but welcomed the investment, which will help target the worst properties to raise standards.
"I am cautiously optimistic that in time, with ongoing partnership working across disciplines, we can see improved housing standards for some of the Bays' least well-off members of society and will make in-roads to deprived areas," Mr Burleigh said.
"Above all, this is the clearest signal yet that Torbay is about to lose its image as a soft touch when it comes to housing and rogue landlords and will no longer be seen as a safe place for people to come to base crime and conduct antisocial behaviour."
He said it was also good news for those who wanted to promote investment into Torbay on the back of the upcoming South Devon Link Road.
Torbay's only Labour councillor, Darren Cowell, welcomed the investment and said: "We have had more than 1,400 complaints about private landlords so doing nothing was not an option."
"I hope that we can send the message far and wide that Torbay is no longer a soft touch and to those irresponsible landlords the message has to be loud and clear that if you don't act responsibly we are coming to get you."
Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver said a "small proportion" of landlords "target" vulnerable people. He said: "I wish to emphasise that the vast majority of landlords are good landlords who accept their responsibilities properly and look after their tenants, who in turn have a duty to be responsible tenants.
"It is the minority of bad landlords, including some social landlords, that we are targeting."