Stem cells need to be protected from genotoxic and proteotoxic stress to maintain a healthy pool throughout life1-3. Little is known about the proteostasis mechanism that safeguards stem cells. Here we report endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) as a protein quality checkpoint that controls the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-niche interaction and determines the fate of HSCs. The SEL1L-HRD1 complex, the most conserved branch of ERAD4, is highly expressed in HSCs. Deletion of Sel1l led to niche displacement of HSCs and a complete loss of HSC identity, and allowed highly efficient donor-HSC engraftment without irradiation. Mechanistic studies identified MPL, the master regulator of HSC identity5, as a bona fide ERAD substrate that became aggregated in the endoplasmic reticulum following ERAD deficiency. Restoration of MPL signalling with an agonist partially rescued the number and reconstitution capacity of Sel1l-deficient HSCs. Our study defines ERAD as an essential proteostasis mechanism to safeguard a healthy stem cell pool by regulating the stem cell-niche interaction.