Charity warns of repossessions risk

Bicester Advertiser: Shelter said that more than 215,000 homes in England are at risk of eviction or repossession Shelter said that more than 215,000 homes in England are at risk of eviction or repossession

More than 4,000 households across England are at risk of losing their home every week through an eviction or repossession, according to research by Shelter.

The housing charity also revealed the hotspots across the country where people are most likely to face losing their home. Newham in London topped the list, with one in every 34 homes there at risk of a possession claim.

Shelter said its research found that London boroughs - where affordable housing is in particularly short supply - dominate the hotspot list, with Barking and Dagenham, Southwark and Hackney also featuring highly.

Outside London, Nottingham is the biggest eviction and repossession risk hotspot, with one in every 54 homes there at risk of a mortgage or landlord possession claim. Peterborough and Salford also feature in the top 20 list, with a one in 60 risk of a claim in both these areas.

The research was based on Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures recorded over the last year, showing how many home owners and private or social renters have received a possession notice for their home. A possession claim is the first stage in a process that can eventually lead to someone losing their home.

Shelter said that more than 215,000 homes in England are at risk of eviction or repossession, equating to 4,140 households under threat every week.

The charity is warning that despite the recovering economy, many families could hit "danger levels" when interest rates, which have been keeping borrowing costs low, eventually rise.

It said its free advice helpline is currently taking more than 480 calls a day and it is urging people to get advice as soon as possible to prevent arrears from spiralling out of control and prepare for future mortgage or rent rises.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "People are hearing that the economy is recovering, but we're seeing the reality that many families across the country are still battling to keep their heads above water and keep their homes.

"Just one thing such as a job loss or serious illness can tip any of us in to a downward spiral that puts our home at risk."

Shelter said that people who are struggling should make their mortgage or rent payments their top priority and they should not be tempted to try to use a payday loan to cover their arrears as they can quickly ramp up the cost of the debt.

Recent MoJ figures showed that while the number of rental sector tenants facing the threat of losing their home across England and Wales has risen to its highest quarterly level in over a decade, the number of mortgage repossession claims made against home owners in the first quarter of this year was at its lowest level in over a decade.

A report from think-tank the Resolution Foundation suggested yesterday that around one in 10 mortgage holders risk being "imprisoned" by borrowing deals likely to make their repayments unaffordable amid predicted interest rate rises over the next four years.

The study predicts that around 770,000 vulnerable households will suffer from a limited ability to switch to a better deal and face the likelihood of their monthly repayments eating up at least a third of their disposable income.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said: "Official Government Statistics show repossession claims are falling and in the last quarter were at their lowest for a decade. This has only been achieved because of this Government's long-term economic plan, which is fixing the broken housing market and tackling the record deficit we inherited.

"We have kept interest rates low, home ownership is now at its most affordable rate since 2007 and mortgage approvals are at a six-year high. However, anyone facing the prospect of losing their home should seek advice and speak to their lender early so they have as many options as possible."

Here are the top 20 eviction and repossession hotspots in England, according to Shelter, with the rate of mortgage and landlord possession claims on a per household basis:

1. Newham, London, one in 34

2. Barking and Dagenham, London, one in 35

3. Southwark, London, one in 38

4. Hackney, London, one in 41

5. Haringey, London, one in 41

6. Brent, London, one in 42

7. Lewisham, London, one in 45

8. Greenwich, London, one in 46

9. Waltham Forest, London, one in 46

10. Enfield, London, one in 46

11. Croydon, London, one in 49

12. Lambeth, London, one in 49

13. Ealing, London, one in 51

14. Tower Hamlets, London, one in 52

15. Nottingham, East Midlands, one in 54

16. Redbridge, London, one in 58

17. Islington, London, one in 59

18. Hillingdon, London, one in 59

19. Peterborough, East of England, one in 60

20. Salford, North West, one in 60

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