Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has rejected a proposal to extend the UK’s largest private landlord licensing scheme.

A plan to renew the measure for another five years from Liverpool City Council was turned down because the application lacked ‘robust evidence’ needed to prove the case, said the minister.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson slammed the decision as ill-thought and claims the ruling puts vulnerable tenants at risk.

He went on to say the scheme was a ‘great success’ and that the council was considering a legal challenge against the decision.

“The decision will severely hamper attempts to drive up standards in the private rental sector and keep private tenants safe, particularly in relation to fire safety,” said a council spokesman.

A Ministry of Housing spokesman explained Liverpool City Council had already been given extra money to carry on enforcement activities against rogue landlords.

“We will continue to support Liverpool City Council and other local authorities in taking effective enforcement action as part of our commitment to securing a better deal for tenants across the country,” said the spokesman.

Councils supervising landlord licensing covering more than 20% of private rented homes in their area must seek government approval to set up and renew the schemes.

Since the scheme started in 2015, Liverpool council says 70% of inspected properties broke licensing conditions, leading to 37,000 compliance actions, more than 2,500 penalty notices and 250 landlord prosecutions.

“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,” said Anderson.

“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 if a blaze breaks out.”