A database of rogue landlords would be opened up to prospective tenants under government plans.
The Rogue Landlords Database was launched in 2018 and only has ten names on it so far.
It includes those who have been banned for failing to make a property habitable, or have been convicted of serious offences.
At the moment the list is only open to local authorities but under a package of rent reforms it will be opened up.
The proposals apply to England as housing policy has been devolved.
"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," said Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.
"Landlords should be in no doubt that they must provide decent homes or face the consequences."
More than four and half million households rent from private landlords in England, a number which has risen dramatically in recent years as buying a house has become more expensive.
"Renters have to provide references from employers and previous landlords before a landlord hands over the keys to a new flat. So it is only fair that renters get the opportunity to check that a prospective landlord doesn't have a criminal record," said Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, which campaigns on behalf of tenants.
"This plan is another victory for renters, though we need much more effective enforcement to identify all landlords who have been breaking the law," he added.
The move will be open to a 12-week consultation which will also consider whether to widen the scope of the rogue list to more housing-related offences, such as breaching the Tenant Fees Act.
Access to the Rogue Landlords Database is part of a wider package of reform to the rental sector, which includes an end to no-fault evictions, which allow landlords to get rid of tenants without a reason after their fixed-term tenancy period has ended.