The social development minister said a new scheme would require all private sector landlords to be on a register, on 15 January 2013.
Nelson McCausland said a landlord registration scheme would introduced by the summer.
He explained that it would require all landlords in Northern Ireland to register the creation of a new tenancy immediately and existing tenancies within 12 months.
"It will give each local council the information it needs to be proactive in ensuring a private landlord adheres to the law already in place," he explained.
Mr McCausland was responding to a motion tabled by his party, the DUP, which called on him to consider introducing a licensing scheme.
He said licensing would help to improve the quality of private rented sector housing in terms of the physical conditions of homes and management standards.
The minister said licensing would require new legislation.
Sinn Fein's Fra McCann said the private rented sector had doubled in size over the last number of years.
"It provides more houses to the social housing rented sector than both the Housing Executive and housing associations put together," he said.
Judith Cochrane of the Alliance Party said renting was fast becoming the only option for many in Northern Ireland and the recent economic climate had caused a new kind of landlord to emerge.
"Those who had bought property as an investment have now found themselves in a situation where they have become landlords in order to get income from the investment," she said.
The East Belfast MLA said that the sector need to be regulated.
"The vast majority of landlords are running a professional operation, although too many tenants in the private sector have had to tolerate poor housing conditions and poor practices by their landlords and letting agent," she said.
The motion passed with no opposition.
The first part of the debate can be viewed