A survey carried out for the housing charity Shelter Scotland and Scottish Gas found about 5% of those renting from a private landlord had been affected.
About two-fifths (43%) of renters said their landlord or letting agent had failed to carry out gas safety checks in the past five years, with 7% of tenants having a gas leak in this period.
A total of 1387 people privately renting their home were questioned by YouGov for the research.
Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: "In thousands of households across Scotland there are disasters waiting to happen because a simple safety check has not taken place.
"For households with children, this is an even bigger concern. Renters have a right to know that the property they are living in is safe.
"Meanwhile, landlords need to know that gas safety is not optional.."
Shelter Scotland has joined with Scottish Gas in a bid to improve housing in the private rental sector.
Scottish Gas engineer Paul Dailly advised of checks tenants can carry out.
He said: "Looking for signs of staining, sooting or discolouration on, or around, your gas boiler, fire or water heater; keeping vents in doors, walls or windows clear; making sure your chimney isn't blocked and checking pilot lights and other gas flames to ensure they burn blue are all simple tests that can be done to help protect your home and everyone in it."