Worrying rise in repossessions in Preston
Calls for more help to stop people losing properties
Landlords lodged dozens more claims to repossess properties from tenants in Preston in the three months to December, figures reveal.
Think tank the Resolution Foundation is urging the Government to provide more financial help for people struggling to pay their rent amid a “mounting arrears crisis”.
Landlords submitted 36 possession claims for tenants’ homes in Preston between October and December, Ministry of Justice data shows.
This was up from 12 over the previous three months, although it was still below the 75 claims made during the same period in 2019.
In the three months to December, there were also:
* Three orders for tenants to leave their home by a certain date
* One suspended possession order letting a tenant stay, providing they keep up their payments and pay back funds owed
* Three warrants to evict people in breach of previous orders
The Government recently extended a ban on evictions – put in place to stop renters becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic – until the end of March.
But it had previously been lifted in September before being reinstated during the second lockdown.
While landlords can still issue possession claims in court, bailiffs are not allowed to evict people under the ban except in certain cases, including when tenants have built up significant arrears.
In January, the Government lowered the eviction threshold from nine months’ rent arrears to six months, and removed a condition that debt built up during the pandemic could not be counted.
Across England, around 8,200 repossession claims were lodged between October and December – up from just 3,800 the previous three months.
There were 520 repossessions, compared to none in the three months to September, although both claims and repossessions were still well below pre-pandemic levels.
Research published by the Resolution Foundation says hundreds of thousands of families have fallen into housing debt due to the impact of Covid-19.
“The UK is currently experiencing a mounting arrears crisis, with more than 450,000 families having fallen behind on housing payments as a result of the pandemic,” said its research director Lindsay Judge.
“Renters have been particularly badly hit. Many have taken huge hits to their earnings and have limited savings to fall back on.
“To make matters worse, measures that could ease the pressure, such as Discretionary Housing Payments from local authorities and negotiated rent reductions from landlords, are not getting through to those that need them.
“This situation will worsen without significant government intervention.”
The group is calling for ministers to improve access to the DHP scheme and introduce a UK-wide tenant loan system to ease the pressure on renters, landlords and the courts.
A government spokesman said: “Our increases to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit of up to £1,040 for the year are helping to reduce rent arrears.
“Councils can also provide additional support to renters through the £180 million Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.
“This support to prevent rent arrears, our ban on bailiff evictions except for the most serious of cases and our action to extend notice periods has seen the number of repossessions between October and December down 93% from the same quarter in 2019.”