Private residential landlords could face mandatory licensing as part of proposed wideranging reforms to the fastgrowing rental sector that include tougher regulation.

The proposals are set out in a hard-hitting government-commissioned report by housing expert Julie Rugg, an academic at York University. Housing minister Margaret Beckett praised it as 'comprehensive and authoritative', but shrank from immediately endorsing its recommendations.

The report comes at a crucial time, with record numbers of people turning to the rental market because of difficulties in buying a property amid the credit crunch.

It accuses the market of sometimes failing to provide adequate levels of quality and service and highlights a number of problem areas, from so-called “slum landlords” to poor service from estate agents.

The report gives a boon to the buy-to-let market by saying the government should consider tax changes to encourage a growth in 'good' landlords. This includes changes to stamp duty and capital gains to encourage landlords to buy more properties.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph