Ministers have outlined moves to bear down on rogue landlords through a compulsory registration scheme.
Unscrupulous landlords are facing get-tough measures
Under the plans it would become an offence to rent out unregistered property.
Councils would be given the authority to close down properties run by landlords who break the rules.
New measures would cover cases where officials believed tenants were being exploited. But ministers insisted they did not intend to be heavy-handed.
They argued it would be assumed that a landlord was considered suitable unless the evidence was to the contrary.
The crackdown would give local authorities, under the Scottish Executive's disorder laws, powers to punish landlords if their tenants cause problems in the community.
Deputy Communities Minister Johann Lamont said: "Our scheme would allow local authorities to ensure that those who let out property are fit and proper people.
"But I am keen that a 'light touch' approach is adopted and that applicants are regarded as fit and proper unless there are grounds to suggest otherwise.
"We are seeking to provide a single, online system for local authorities to use which will allow applications to be handled in a consistent way and make the process as streamlined as possible."
Some properties, including crofts and houses used by religious orders, would be exempt from the purge.
Homelessness charity Shelter had earlier called for tougher laws in Scotland to deal with landlords who carry out unlawful evictions of their tenants.
Campaigners called for the Housing Scotland Bill to be amended so that councils would have the ability to investigate unscrupulous private landlords.