Thursday, 21 August 2008

Record numbers being evicted in Leeds - YEP

20 August 2008
By Mark Hookham
Political Editor

THE number of homeowners facing eviction for failing to meet mortgage payments in Leeds has jumped by a third.

A total of 319 mortgage repossession orders were made by the county court between April and June this year – up by 33 per cent on the second quarter of last year. The Ministry of Justice figures provide worrying evidence about how the credit crunch is impacting on the poorest households in the city.

A mortgage repossession order is granted by a court and entitles the claimant – usually a lender – to apply to have the occupier evicted. Not all orders result in the properties actually being repossessed because homeowners and lenders can still negotiate a compromise to prevent eviction.

The number of mortgage repossession claims – the earlier first stage of the repossession process – has also increased in Leeds by 6 per cent, with 432 claims made in the second quarter of this year. Similarly, the number of claims jumped by 33 per cent in Pontefract, 27 per cent in Wakefield and 23 per cent in Dewsbury between April and June this year compared to 2007.

Across England and Wales there were 39,078 claims in the courts for the three month period, up 17 per cent. The number of repossession orders made by the courts nationally rose by 24 per cent to 28,658.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: "While we are not seeing repossessions on the same scale as the early 1990s, we are making sure the right advice and support is available for the minority of borrowers who may need it at the moment because of global economic pressures."

Earlier this year Ms Flint announced a package of measures to help those who face losing their homes, including free legal representation at county court.

But Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable warned: "The level of growth of repossession orders suggests we are on track for a repossession crisis very similar to the early 1990s.

"It is absolutely vital that the Government should intervene and require a proper code of conduct to be implemented by mortgage lenders."

Last week lenders' data for actual repossessions also showed a leap in numbers. In a further worrying development, the British Chamber of Commerce yesterday became the first business group to forecast that Britain would fall into recession. It predicted the economic slump will force unemployment to soar by between 250,000 and 300,000 in the next two to three years, adding that total unemployment of more than 2 million could not be ruled out.

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