Former Mayor, Rose Williams, is pressing Reading Borough Council environmental health teams to crack down on landlords "neglecting" private rented homes in her target ward of Katesgrove.
The neighbourhood includes a large amount of private, rented and shared terraced houses, flats and bedsits. Overall more than a quarter (26%) of the borough's housing stock is made up of private rented property with an estimated 18,000 people living in 3,500 Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) - more than double the national average of 12%.
Ms Williams, who is patrolling Katesgrove and reporting unkempt homes to the council, said: "Landlords neglecting their properties aren't just affecting their own tenants but everybody else who lives, walks or drives down that street. It's unacceptable, but by working together we can restore these lovely Victorian streets to a decent state and everybody will benefit. A tidy house and garden give a boost to the whole area."
Council spokesman Oscar Mortali insisted the authority's Street Care Team and environmental health officers are forcing landlords to clear gardens containing large amounts of waste which are in danger of attracting rodents, or if bushes and trees are obstructing roads and pavements.
He added: "There are instances where neglected properties can affect neighbours and anyone passing by, which does not reflect well on the local area.
"We take it seriously and any residents who are concerned should contact us."
The council is also using new laws to punish landlords who leave tenants living in unacceptable or dangerous conditions or allow long-term empty homes fall into disrepair.
The authority announced last week it will serve rogue landlords with Interim Management Orders (IMOs), enabling housing management companies to take over the properties to drive up standards.