The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is considering changing planning laws to prevent neighbourhoods from being dominated by student housing.
Simon Llewellyn, the DCLG's head of private renting and leaseholds, said the department is considering whether it could introduce a new land use class specifically for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). These are not currently distinguished from family homes in the use class system.
Such a change could distribute student houses more widely in urban areas and prevent "studentification" of individual neighbourhoods, Llewellyn said.
He said it was one of a range of measures being considered by the department's review of the private rented sector, launched by former housing minister Yvette Cooper last month.
Llewellyn was responding to comments by Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods at a British Property Federation conference this week. She said that high student densities reduce the proportion of affordable housing available to permanent residents and the problem must be tackled by changing use classes or introducing mandatory licensing of landlords of students.
The DCLG's private rented sector review is due to report in October.
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