All landlords in Brighton and Hove may be required to register with the council.
Housing officials are looking at whether to copy a licensing scheme used in Newham in East London.
Landlords of larger shared houses – HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) in the jargon – are already licensed under a statutory scheme. And 800 of those landlords now have a licence in Brighton and Hove.
A thousand more applications for licences have been received for smaller shared houses in five council wards since a separate registration scheme was brought in on Monday 5 November last year.
The scheme covers the Brighton and Hove City Council wards with the most students – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Hanover and Elm Grove, St Peter’s and North Laine and Queen’s Park.
Moulsecoomb and Bevendean Labour councillor Leigh Farrow wrote to Housing Committee chairman Liz Wakefield in January about extending the scheme.
“I would request that officers investigate and report back on this scheme and the feasibility of implementing a similar scheme in our city.”
Councillor Wakefield’s reply said: “In recent years we have seen a growth in the private rented sector to 34,081 homes – 28 per cent of all housing stock.
“The most recent census indicates that the private rented sector in Brighton and Hove has increased by 37 per cent since 2001 and that the city has the sixth highest proportion of converted dwellings or shared houses (houses in multiple occupation and bedsits) in England and Wales.”
She outlined some of the benefits of the private rented sector and said that the extended licensing scheme in five Brighton council wards was agreed because evidence had identified problems.
She said: “Newham has evidence that poor property and tenant management and associated anti-social behaviour is found in all types of private rented properties and in all wards of the borough.
“Therefore Newham proposes to introduce a comprehensive borough-wide licensing scheme with the clear objective of securing a consistent level of responsible property management among all private landlords.
“The Housing Act sets out circumstances where a local authority may consider establishing a selective licensing scheme or any further designation of additional licensing and the evidence needed to support this.”
Councillor Wakefield said that she had “requested an initial scoping study … to establish whether there is sufficient evidence to satisfy the legal requirements for implementing either further additional licensing or a selective licensing scheme in Brighton and Hove at this time”.
One of the council’s senior housing officials, Martin Reid, told the Housing Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 6 March): “There are significant legal hurdles. A very high level of evidence is required.”