The largest rental property licensing scheme in the country has been shut down by the Government.
Liverpool’s city-wide licensing scheme, introduced in 2015, will not be extended.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has rejected the council’s application to keep it going for another five years.
The scheme, which means that all private landlords across the city must obtain a licence for their rental properties, has the backing of Merseyside police and the fire and rescue service, as well as members of the public who took part in a consultation.
Liverpool City Council has been told that its application “did not demonstrate robust evidence to support the existence of low housing demand across the whole city”.
Government approval is needed for licensing schemes which cover more than 20% of a council’s area.
In Liverpool, the private rented sector accounts for up to half of housing in some areas, and covers 55,000 properties in total.
The city council says that the scheme has been highly successful, and that over 70% of the properties that have been inspected as part of the scheme uncovered hazards such as fire and electrical safety.
The council has carried out over 37,000 compliance actions, issued over 2,500 notices and prosecuted some 250 landlords.
It is asking the Government why an extension to the scheme has been rejected, and may consider a legal challenge.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: “This decision is not only ill-thought through and short-sighted, it also puts the lives of some of our most vulnerable tenants at risk.
“This decision flies in the face of the Government’s tough talk on housing standards, particularly around fire safety in rented properties.
“Over the last five years our officers have come across people whose landlords are happy to take their rent while allowing them to live in appalling conditions with unsafe electrics, gas supply and no fire doors to protect them in the event that a blaze breaks out.”
However, John Stewart of the Residential Landlords Association said: “A much more focused approach is required, and we welcome the rejection of the city-wide scheme.”
Isobel Thomson, the CEO of safeagent, formerly NALS, which has been a partner in Liveerpool’s licensing scheme since inception, said: “We were pleased to be involved in the initiative which has helped to improve property and management standards in Liverpool’s Private Rented Sector.
“We are now looking forward to working in partnership with central and local government, within a more coherent national framework of regulation and enforcement.
“It is our hope that sufficient resources will be made available to ensure that standards in the PRS in Liverpool and across England continue to rise.”
The first borough-wide licensing scheme in the country, at the London borough of Newham, was renewed two years ago, but only after a long delay and with one postcode area being left out.