Mr Jones said: 'Some of the most vulnerable members of society, including young people and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged, live in HMOs.
'Living in a HMO is often the only housing option these people have, which is why we are proposing this new licensing scheme to protect tenants from overcrowded and poorly maintained housing.
'I believe that everyone has a right to decent and safe housing, which is why I am also concerned with the problems caused by the proliferation of HMOs in traditional residential areas. This is particularly true in areas of high student density, where poor quality, poorly maintained housing has a detrimental effect on permanent residents and students alike.
Licences will be issued and enforced by local authorities and will cover:
-the physical standards of the premises (including ensuring adequate fire safety, kitchen and bathroom facilities, and tackling overcrowding)
-standards of good management (for example proper maintenance schemes)
-the fitness of the licensee (this may include checking for criminal records and ensuring adequate training on, for example, fire safety).
1.The government indicated in June last year that it intended to consult on a licensing system for HMOs.
The worst housing conditions are often found in this sector, and research shows that the risk of death from fire is considerably greater than in comparable single occupancy housing.
Copies of the Welsh Office consultation paper 'Licensing of houses in multiple occupation' can be obtained from Kevin Murphy, Welsh Office, housing operations division 1, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1 3NQ.
The closing date for responses is 2 July 1999.
The government is determined to improve the often poor conditions at the lower end of the private rented market. However, it is not proposing licensing for all rented housing. It believes that this would be bureaucratic and may discourage the supply of good quality rented housing.
Instead, the government is encouraging voluntary accreditation and licensing schemes. If these do not develop and raise standards over time, the government will consider alternative options.