Nearly 460,000 families and more than 100,000 pensioners are living in potentially dangerous or seriously sub-standard rented homes, Labour said last night.
It announced plans to set up a national register of landlords – and to strike off those who persist in renting out damp, freezing and cramped properties.
According to Labour’s analysis of government statistics, 457,000 families and 109,000 pensioners are in rented homes in England which are categorised as “non-decent”.
They include 275,000 families and 65,000 pensioners who live with serious hazards such as exposure to asbestos or carbon monoxide emissions.
In addition, 132,000 families and 31,000 pensioners are risking their health by living in damp, cold and mouldy surroundings.
Almost 200,000 families and 47,000 pensioners are assessed to have inadequate heat in the winter, leaving many of them relying on portable heaters.
Jack Dromey, the shadow housing minister, said: “Bad housing harms health and dangerous housing can kill.”
He said Labour planned a range of measures to drive rogue landlords out of business. It would create a national register of landlords who would be expected to meet minimum standards of property conditions and repairs. Those who failed to comply would be struck off.
Labour is also promising to prevent landlords persecuting tenants who complain about poor standards.
Mr Dromey said: “We want to see all families enjoying a decent home at a price they can afford. While the majority of landlords are responsible, there can be no place in future for homes that are damp, cold and unfit to bring children up, holding them back at school.”