Renters will be able to look up blacklisted landlords in a database under new government plans.
The proposal would give tenants access to a register currently only available to local authorities and allow them to search landlords and letting agents by name to check their track records.
Housing campaigners say allowing prospective tenants to use the Rogue Landlords Database “will offer renters a better chance of protecting themselves and their family”.
The database holds information about the most serious and prolific criminals, including those convicted of failing to make a property habitable, as well as serious crimes such as drug and sex offences.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire announced the plans as part of a series of rent reforms which also include proposals to end no-fault evictions.
The no-fault process means landlords can force a tenant to leave without having to give any reason.
Homeless charity Shelter has described the banning of no-fault evictions as “far and away the most important thing the government can do” for the sector.
The latest proposals will also see landlords given grounds to reclaim properties when they genuinely need them, such as to sell the home or for a family member to move in.
Court processes are also expected to be made smoother.
Speaking about the proposals, Mr Brokenshire said: “This database has the potential to ensure that poor quality homes across the country are improved and the worst landlords are banned, and it is right that we unlock this crucial information for new and prospective tenants.
“Landlords should be in no doubt that they must provide decent homes or face the consequences.”
Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said the plans were “encouraging” and urged the incoming prime minister to see through the legislation.
There are more than 11m private renters in England, according to England Housing Survey figures.