Auckland Council says landlords have too much power over tenants and it wants the Government to introduce random auditing of rentals.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said a similar system to random tax audits would ensure landlords kept their properties up to scratch, without hugely increasing compliance costs.
The proposal was made in a submission on law changes that will make it compulsory for all landlords to install smoke alarms and insulation by 2019.
The submission said the measures were an "excellent step", but could go further. The council wanted a broader range of minimum standards, fewer properties exempted and active enforcement.
Under the proposed changes, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have powers to prosecute landlords who are singled out by tenancy associations. Tenants will also be able to make complaints without fear of eviction.
However, the council said many tenants were unwilling to jeopardise their living situation by complaining to landlords, let alone to the Tenancy Tribunal - in particular new migrants or low-income tenants who feared repercussions.
It said that under the proposed changes, landlords were left to decide for themselves if they complied with the standards.