Citizens Advice has called for a new national housing body to regulate the private rented sector in England.
The charity has made the call after helping almost 60,000 people with issues relating to private renting last year.
Almost one in four (24%) had issues with repairs, while over 2,500 claimed they were being harassed by their landlords.
A survey conducted on behalf of Citizens Advice revealed that many landlords are ignorant of their legal obligations, while tenants are unaware of their rights, or feel unable to enforce them.
The new national body would set standards for homes, including a property ‘MOT’, establish a ‘fit and proper’ test for landlords, and standardise rental contracts.
According to a new report Getting the house in order almost a third of landlords find it difficult to keep up with rules and regulations, and three-quarters would welcome a new national body.
The report also says that three in five tenants identified disrepair in their homes within the previous two years.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with dangerous flaws.
“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.
“The Government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards, and gives renters the support they need when they don’t.”
However housing lawyer David Smith, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association, criticised the call for a new national body.
He said: “There are already well over 150 laws containing 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector.
“The powers are already there for councils to tackle and root out criminal landlords who cause misery for their tenants.
“What is lacking are both the will and the resources to properly use them.
“We fail to see how establishing a new body of this kind will help to address this.”