Shelter is calling on the Government to introduce a tenancy deposit scheme within the new Housing Bill to protect up to 127,000 tenants whose deposits are unfairly held by "cowboy" landlords every year.
The charity says that £65m of deposits were not returned to tenants in 2003, and that a rent-deposit scheme could help the Government create a fairer housing system.
"It is time to end the rent-deposit rip-off scam and protect tenants' deposits," said Adam Sampson, director of Shelter. "There's no longer room in the private-rental sector for cowboy landlords playing fast and loose with people's hard-earned cash."
The charity is also pressing for an update to the current regulations on overcrowding, which follows the recent campaign, highlighting the impact that it can have on children's education and wellbeing.
"The Government must look again at the Housing Bill, and ensure that people are not condemned to live in homes that ruin their health or literally put their lives at risk," said Sampson.
Shelter is also working to extend measures in the Housing Bill aimed at protecting private tenants from dangerous living conditions.