The Labour Party has said that it would commit to new minimum standards for rented properties, amid concerns that some 400,000 families are living in sub-standard private accommodation.
Common problems include unsafe wiring, severe damp and vermin infestations.
John Healey, Shadow Housing Minister, said the time had come to call time on bad landlords.
“Our homes are at the centre of our lives, but at the moment renters too often don’t have basic consumer rights that we take for granted in other areas,” the MP told The Guardian.
“In practice, you have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge-freezer. As a result, too many are forced to put up with unacceptable, unfit and downright dangerous housing.”
The new minimum standards would be designed to ensure that all homes are fit for habitation.
There is also the promise of new powers allowing councils to license landlords and impose fines on those who break the laws.
But Gavin Barwell, Mr Healey’s opposite number in the Government, criticised the intervention.
“A town hall ‘tenants’ tax’…would hit every tenant in the pocket with higher rents,” he said.
“We want to help people have good quality housing, which is why we have taken targeted action against the small minority of rogue landlords, without hitting every single home with expensive municipal red tape that will force up costs and reduce supply.”