A LABOUR council boss has branded as “nonsense” claims his authority is using housing rules to socially engineer communities .

Oxford City Council’s Ed Turner spoke after it was revealed the authority offered families homes as far away as Birmingham and Cardiff.

The National Landlord Association said the council’s use of a rule which makes it harder to sub-divide homes into flats had forced up rents.

The council’s use of “article four directions” means landlords need planning permission to sub-divide homes.

Association chief executive Richard Lambert said: “The NLA has long said that councils need to think through this policy which inevitably limits the supply of shared housing.

“This is not the first example of councils trying to move on those with the greatest housing need in the area.

“And the problem is down in part to the introduction of article four directions which are being used as planning controls to socially engineer communities.”

He added: “Councils that have introduced article four directions need to review their policies and engage with landlords.

“This would lead to greater investment in shared housing and mean more can be done to house those people most in need, rather than simply moving the issue on to other parts of the UK.”

The city council rehoused five families outside of Oxford, including two in Birmingham, to help meet the huge demand for housing.

But deputy council leader Mr Turner accused the organisation of “piggy-backing on a serious issue”.

He said: “We want to see homes provided for families. Why it would be the case that you would see families move to Birmingham because of that, I don’t know.

“The NLA is talking nonsense. In a city like Oxford, if you leave it to the market you will end up with substantial amounts of shared properties and what you need is a balance.

“This is a measure to protect family housing and what we are struggling with in Oxford is a shortage of that.

“We are talking about families moving to Birmingham, not single people, and the NLA is piggy-backing on a serious issue.”