A Government-commissioned review into selective licensing has backed the creation of a national landlord register.
The review described selective licensing as an “effective policy tool” but has recommended a range of reforms.
The Opinion Research Services review suggests a national landlord register would help complement selective licensing schemes and provide easy access to data on who should have a licence.
The research highlights a lack of data on the rental sector as a key problem with effective licensing and enforcement.
It said: “A national registration scheme would go a long way toward solving these data related problems.
“Such as scheme would allow for far more accurate enumeration of the private rented sector at the planning stage and would facilitate the ongoing identification of unlicensed properties in an active designation. These factors would increase the effectiveness of any selective licensing scheme significantly.
“As such, national registration would at the very least complement and support selective licensing.”
The review authors said they were not tasked with recommending how such as scheme would work but added that there is “significant appetite for such an initiative”.
It is unclear whether this would apply to lettings agents, but it is believed they may fall out of the scope as they would be eventually be covered by new regulations in the sector.
Other recommendations include amending the mandatory licence conditions to include a standard requirement on property condition that covers the absence of serious hazards and introducing a “light touch” process to renew existing schemes.
The document also suggests letting local authorities charge for the enforcement element of the licence fee on a prorated basis to reflect the remainder of the designation period.
Responding to the recommendations, John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said a register would not work.
He said: “Ministers have repeatedly made clear that a national register of landlords would become an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy.
“We agree. All it would become is a list of good landlords which brings us no closer to finding the crooks that operate under the radar.
“Selective licensing has become a replacement for lost central Government funding and provides no assurances to tenants about the quality of accommodation.
“Properties do not need to be inspected before a landlord is given a licence and the RLA has found that many councils are charging eye-watering sums of money for almost nothing in return.
“Local authorities need the will and the resources to put real effort into finding the criminal landlords who never come forward to make themselves known.
“That means using a range of information they can already access including council tax returns, information on tenancy deposits and benefit data to root out the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Select licensing has made a real difference to areas across the country. This report further demonstrates that with proper planning, consultation and implementation, these schemes can make a real difference to the quality of homes people live in.
“The report does highlight some important matters which require further consideration, and we will work with the sector to continue to understand their concerns before responding fully.”