Some 71% of the public agree that landlords who commit housing offences should face prison sentences.
A YouGov poll, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Housing Federation, found that 50% support jail sentences and agree that it is a significant issue.
Meanwhile, 21% said they agree that criminal landlords should be jailed but do not see it as a significant issue.
Over half (56%) of male respondents said they feel it is an important issue and support jail sentences, while more women favoured other ways of punishing offenders.
One participant commented: “Most landlords do it for the money so instead of adding to the over-crowding and cost of jail, punishment should hit the pocket and could include forfeiture of the property, I say all this as a landlord.”
Others said that higher financial penalties should be levied and that repeat offenders should be jailed.
One landlord observed that discussion about fines and harsher punishment should also involve the issue of irresponsible tenants.
Earlier this week the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, called for councils to be handed greater powers to tackle criminal landlords.
It suggested that the Housing Act is amended so that for more serious housing offences, landlords could be handed a community order or prison sentence.