More than 1,500 licences to convert small family homes into “houses in multiple occupation” have been issued by Brighton and Hove City Council in the last two years, it has been revealed.

New figures have also shown the number of houses now in the city’s private rented sector has increased by 10,691 - 45% - in the last few years to 34,081 across the city.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have becoming increasingly popular in Brighton and Hove where there is a shortage of affordable housing and large student population.

But they have not always been popular with families who have seen their neighbourhoods taken over by with landlords buying up family homes before renting out the individual bedrooms.

National laws require that all houses that are used in this way with three or more storeys with five or more occupiers must be licensed and meet specific safety requirements.

Moulsecoomb and Bevendean have seen the biggest number of licences granted with 608 handed out as of April 9 this year.

Hanover and Elm Grove came second in the latest list with 430 new licences ahead of St. Peter’s and North Laine (304), Hollingdean and Stanmer (169) and Queen’s Park (72).

To date 1,800 applications have been received from landlords under the new additional licensing scheme with more than 1,000 under the national scheme.

The new scheme to licence smaller homes was introduced in 2012 amid concerns that a significant number of smaller HMOs in the five wards around Lewes Road were not being properly managed and not meeting required safety standards for tenants.

As part of the new scheme, landlords wanting to convert smaller homes are required to meet specific conditions with particular emphasis placed on fire safety.

Councillor Bill Randall, chairman of the housing committee at Brighton and Hove, said: “We’ve had a terrific response to this scheme, which is producing safer and better homes for residents in shared housing as well as peace of mind for landlords.

“Research has shown a concentration of smaller houses converting from family homes to HMOs in these five wards. Our licensing regulations have provided protection for tenants in the traditionally larger HMOs for many years and we have built up a good working relationship with landlords. It was only right that we should extend these benefits more widely to others renting privately in smaller HMOs.”