According to government statistics released on 9 February 2023, the numbers of mortgage and landlord possession claims, orders, warrants and repossessions have all increased significantly when compared to the same quarter for the previous year.
Whilst numbers may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic when possession claims were stayed by the courts (between March and September 2020), it is clear that numbers of these types of claims are beginning to rise again, and that the courts are now starting to get through the backlog of claims that were held up due to Covid. The cost of living crisis has also invariably led to an increase in claims.
The numbers for mortgage possession claims (from September to December 2022) were as follows:
- Mortgage possession claims increased by 23% (from 2,570 to 3,160)
- Possession orders increased by 50% (from 1,650 to 2,482)
- Warrants increased by 88% (from 1,121 to 2,112)
- Repossessions by county court bailiffs increased by 134% (from 313 to 733)
There was a higher increase in the number of landlord possession claims processed by the courts:
- Landlord possession claims increased by 42% (from 14,436 to 20,460)
- Possession orders increased by 135% (from 6,865 to 16,158)
- Warrants increased by 103% (from 4,285 to 8,717)
- Repossessions by county court bailiffs increased by 98% (from 2,729 to 5,409)
Perhaps more encouraging for claimants is the time it is taking for the courts to deal with these types of claim. Although mortgage possession claims are still taking, on average, 64 weeks from the date of the claim to the repossession, this time last year, that figure was over 112 weeks.
For landlords who wish to repossess their properties, the average time from the issue of the claim to the repossession has come down from 42 weeks to 21 weeks.
Whilst the above figures are the average timescales covering the whole of England and Wales, the length of time it takes to process a possession claim will largely depend on which county court that claim has been issued in, and the availability of judges to hear those claims.
All of the figures are substantially below the levels we saw in early 2009 (following the 2008 financial crash), when there were over 26,000 possession claims issued in the period April to June 2009.
In these uncertain financial times, it is likely that the figures will continue to rise over the next few months, as more and more people struggle with the costs of living crisis and are unable to pay their mortgages or rents. Borrowers and tenants should therefore seek to communicate with their lender/landlord if they are in financial difficulties in order to see if any payment windows can be agreed and in order to avoid losing their homes.