The number of mortgage repossession claims is creeping up again after a lengthy period of stability, new figures show.
In April to June 2017, claims for possession increased by 17% on the same period in 2016 to 5,186.
That is still well short of the peak during the financial crisis from April to June 2009, when claims reached 26,419 over the three-month period.
The Ministry of Justice, which has published the figures, said the fall in mortgage possession actions in recent years coincided with lower interest rates, a proactive approach from lenders in managing consumers in financial difficulties, and other interventions such as the Mortgage Rescue Scheme. The downward trend has also mirrored the fall in the proportion of owner-occupiers.
But an increase has been detected over the last year, with the Outer London region driving the trend with the largest percentage rise in both claims and mortgage repossession orders.
It is almost nine years since the pre-action protocol for possession claims based on mortgage arrears came into force. Major lenders agreed with the government not to start mortgage possession proceedings in relation to residential properties unless the borrower had accrued three months’ arrears.
The protocol was amended in April 2015 to discourage lenders from issuing possession claims without first checking whether there was an authorised tenant in occupation of the property.
Meanwhile, landlord possession claims, required to evict tenants, fell 6% over the period to 32,077 – following a trend evident since 2014.
Most landlord possession claims (59%) were social landlord claims, with 25% of them accounted for by accelerated possession claims where landlords took the quicker route to eviction. The remainder were private landlord claims.
Mortgage possession claim rates were highest in Blaenau Gwent and Barrow-in-Furness, with 55 and 52 per 100,000 households respectively. Landlord possession claim rates were most concentrated in London, with the Borough of Newham (382 per 100,000 households) having the highest rate.