Canterbury City Council has launched a bid to make residential landlords pay business rates, by voting to lobby the district’s MPs and the Government for a change in the rules.

The move was originally aimed at the owners of student houses, after a review calculated how much students, who are exempt from council tax, cost the council with services like litter collection.

Residents have complained that the owners of student lets are profiting at the expense of tax payers, as the council sees spending cut to below £18m and is forced to find savings of £2.2m in the coming financial year.

Last week, Conservative Councillor Terry Westgate told a meeting of the council’s community committee: “Students should be exempt from council tax but landlords should contribute.

"The council is going to lose a great deal of money in the coming years and with so many houses in multiple occupation in Canterbury, we are going to be in real trouble."

The decision was made after Liverpool City Council called on the Government to impose business rates on student landlords, in September 2016.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) fears the plans could force students’ rents up and reduce the quality of accommodation.

Andrew Goodacre, RLA chief executive said: “This sets a very dangerous precedent. Where one council goes others are sure to follow.

“Landlords will look to recoup this extra tax by increasing their rents and taxing them in this way will reduce the amount of money they have to spend on repairs and home improvements for their tenants.

“This is yet another example of landlords being treated as little more than cash cows by those in power.

“I hope the Government will share our concerns and put a stop to this unfair tax on students who are already paying through the nose for their education.”