Watford Borough Council received hundreds of complaints about rogue landlords in the last three years – but only two led to prosecutions.

There were 421 complaints about landlords, 169 about Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) and 759 service requests.

Cllr Stephen Johnson, portfolio holder for commercial planning and housing, said only a “small minority” of landlords exploit tenants and every complaint is investigated.

He added working with them to cater for tenant needs was the quickest way of dealing with issues.

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“Where this doesn’t work we will take formal action and we have cases on going at present,” he said.

The data came to light after an Open Democracy investigation found councils in England and Wales received 314,000 complaints but half had not prosecuted a single landlord.

Shelter, which campaigns to end bad housing, claims there are 3.7million people in England suffering due to illegal landlord behaviour.

The charity’s boss Polly Neate said the government must introduce a national landlord register to ensure they are accountable.