The amount councils spend on tackling landlords who break the law has been cut by a quarter in recent years, according to the latest analysis.
The Residential Landlords Association says spending by local authorities in England on housing standard activities fell to £33.5m last year, a drop of £11m compared to eight years ago.
It says better enforcement of the law backed up by greater funding is key to driving out 'the minority of landlords who can make life a misery for tenants and bring the sector into disrepute'.
While the Government has recently made £2m available for councils to support efforts to tackle problem landlords, the RLA says 'one-off pots of money' do not provide help with planning long-term enforcement.
The association's policy manager John Stewart said: 'Criminal landlords undermine the reputation of the decent majority, cause tenants to suffer and have no place in the sector.
'Local authorities must have the funds they need to properly enforce the wide range of powers they already have to tackle sub-standard housing and criminal behaviour.
'Our analysis shows that for all the warm words, councils are in desperate need of new funding to ensure this happens.
'The Government should use the Spending Review to address this as a matter of urgency.'