Concern at increases in mortgage and private rental repossessions

Thursday 15th June 2017

Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, is expressing its concern as mortgage cases listed at Exeter County Court rose by 19% and private rented sector cases rose by 9% in the last year. This is comparing the year ending 31st March 2017 to the same period ending in 2016.

 

Across all housing sectors, there was an overall decrease of 0.5% in the total number of cases listed. Where a Citizens Advice adviser has assisted those facing repossession, they have avoided repossession in 92% of cases. Exeter City Council, in partnership with East Devon District Council, has provided financial support for this essential service.

 

Steve Barriball, Citizens Advice Exeter Chief Executive, said:  “We have at least one adviser present at the Court each Tuesday morning to advise and advocate for clients. In the last year there were 593 cases listed for repossession, a 0.5% decrease, or 3 cases, on the previous year. The biggest increase is in mortgage repossessions, up by 19%. There was also an increase in private rented sector repossessions, up by 9%. There was a welcome reduction of 10% in housing association cases, and a reduction of 1% in local authority repossession actions. There were, on average, 12 cases listed across all housing sectors each week.”

 

Steve explained: “For the last few years we have seen the number of cases listed for repossession level out.  With historically low interest rates, the increase of 19% in mortgage cases is a real worry. We will be keeping a close eye on whether this trend continues. It is important that homeowners think about the impact an interest rate rise in the future would have on their ability to keep up with mortgage payments and start to plan now. We have seen evidence showing that one in five homeowners are at risk of arrears if there is an interest rate rise in the future. This is why we are calling on the new Government to invest in frontline money and debt advice that enables people to take control of their finances. This includes giving people free money advice at key life events. ”

 

Steve continued: “The upward trend in private rented sector repossessions is a worry also. 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 from us as early as possible. We are also calling on the new Government to strengthen protections in the private rental market by making it easier for renters to get refunds when a home is in a state of serious disrepair.“

 

Steve finished by saying:

“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 and East Devon District Council for funding this service.”

 

Repossession trends in the period 1 April – 31 March

 

Sector 2015/16

Repossessions

2016/17 Repossessions Difference % Change
Housing Association 210 189 -21 -10.0%
Private 82 90 +8 +9.7%
Local authority 236 233 -3 -1.2%
Mortgage 68 81 +13 +19.1
Total 596 593 -3 -0.5%