One council’s attempt to crack down on rogue landlords has been branded a "complete failure" because half of its HMOs are believed to remain unregistered.
Oxford city council began licensing houses of multiple occupation in 2011 and claims that since then it has raised £3.5m for investment in housing.
However, a BBC report says the National Landlords Association now claims people are being driven out of the city because the register is not adequately policed and the cost of legitimate landlords conforming with it is driving up rents.
"It's a complete failure by the council, both on the good landlords and for the tenants that are having to live in sub-standard housing” says NLA policy offer Gavin Dick.
But he warns: "It's having a massive impact on housing costs in Oxford, its driving rents up and driving people out. It's not thought through, its not financed property and people are still living in poor conditions."
The BBC says about 21,000 people are living in 7,000 HMOs in Oxford. But it quotes council leader Bob Price admitting: "We rely on the public to tell us that next door to them has been taken over by a landlord and has become an HMO.”
So far, Oxford council has made around 50 prosecutions of landlords who have operated but not registered their HMOs.
"What we do, also, is take particular streets and look through the register of electors, we look at the council tax register and that also gives us indications of problems we can look at" says Price.