Concern at increase in mortgage repossessions

Wednesday 24th January 2018

Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, has raised concerns about a 16.6% increase in the number of mortgage repossession cases listed at Exeter County Court in the nine-month period ending 31st December. This is in comparison to the same period in 2016.

Steve Barriball, Citizens Advice Exeter Chief Executive, said:

“In the last nine-months there were 426 cases listed for repossession, an overall decrease of 0.4%, or 2 cases, on the previous year. However, there was a significant increase in mortgage repossessions, which were up by ten cases.

“There was also an increase in housing association repossessions, up by 4.2%. There were welcome reductions of 15.7% in private rented sector cases, and 5.2% in local authority actions.

“For the last few years we have seen the headline number of cases listed for repossession level out. Therefore, these latest figures on mortgage and housing association repossessions are concerning.

“There is also a worry that the current system of benefit support for mortgage interest, known as support for mortgage interest (SMI) is to be replaced from April 2018 with repayable loans secured on the property. For people with mortgages, who are already struggling financially, this will potentially put them further into debt.

“Every case listed is a tragedy for those affected and it is essential that they are able to access the advice they need to ensure they are aware of their rights.

“We know that often landlords are frustrated at the lack of engagement by tenants when they start to build up arrears. If this is left unchecked it can result in repossession proceedings. We would recommend that any tenant in difficulty speaks to their landlord and gets advice as early as possible. “

The charity has advisers present at the Court each Tuesday morning ready to advise and advocate for those facing possession of their home. Where a Citizens Advice adviser has provided assistance repossession was avoided in 88% of cases. There were, on average, 11 cases listed across all housing sectors each week.

Steve continued:

“I am grateful to our staff and volunteers for providing this essential service to families and households facing repossession.

“We are also grateful to Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council and Mid Devon District Council for funding this service.”

Repossession trends in the period 1 April – 31 December

Sector 2016/17

Repossessions

2017/18 Repossessions Difference % Change
Housing Association 141 147 +6 +4.2%
Private 57 48 -9 -15.7%
Local authority 170 161 -9 -5.2%
Mortgage 60 70 +10 +16.6%
Total 428 426 -2 -0.4%