Housing and Planning Minister Caroline Flint said the report would help councils manage high concentrations of houses in multiple occupation.

She said 'studentification' of university towns is a real concern especially during the summer months when neighbourhoods are left dormant because too many properties in one area are rented to groups of students.

Queens University in Belfast was listed as an example of this effect. Flint said students typically live within a mile of campus and make up more than half of all households in the area with some streets exclusively occupied by students.

The reports lists a series of measures it says will ‘tackle and stop the complex causes and symptoms of concentrated student neighbourhoods’.

These measures include:

  • Preventing new enclaves by considering changes to the use classes order planning rules allowing for HMOs to be brought under greater council control. This has already been adopted in Northern Ireland.
  • Capping and controlling the distribution and the dispersal of HMOs by using the local planning system to set up 'areas of restraint', which have been shown to help balance communities. Nottingham has already established a threshold of 25% per neighbourhood.
  • Universities and student unions should develop housing and community strategies that include: community liaison officers; student codes of conduct; neighbourhood helplines; and use of authorised student accommodation agents to help protect students from bad tenancy deals. Many universities have already invested heavily in new student halls which could help ease pressures.
  • Councils should target resources such as refuse/letting board collections, street cleansing, fly posting controls at key times in the academic year; establish landlord accreditation schemes; link the demand with regeneration opportunities; work with universities to consider purpose built accommodation; and make better use of their HMO licensing and empty property powers.

Flint said: ‘It is not acceptable that current rental practices allow unplanned student enclaves to evolve to such an extent that local communities are left living as ghost towns following the summer student exodus.

‘Today's report has identified a series of proven steps councils and universities can take to reduce the dramatic effects of 'studentification' where Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) cluster too closely together.

‘I also want to consider further how the planning proposals might help councils change term time only towns into properly planned towns that blend the student populations into well mixed neighbourhoods that are alive all year round.

She said there are clear economic benefits from student populations but their dramatic growth in recent years has seen this type of housing problem increase because students typically group together to rent properties.