The number of mortgage repossession claims issued in the courts fell from 23,705 to 20,061 - or 15% - in the last three months of 2009 compared to the previous quarter. This number is also 26% lower than during the same period in 2008.
Why has the number fallen?
Low interest rates and increased support for struggling borrowers have helped. The Bank of England interest rate is now 0.5%, while in early October 2008 it stood at 5%.
And since the introduction of the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol in November 2008 lenders can not apply for a repossession order unless there really is no other alternative. The Protocol forces lenders to consider arrangements to help those in arrears get back on track.
Courts Minister Bridget Prentice says:
"The mortgage industry and the government have worked hard to minimise the threat of repossession to people struggling with debt.
"The Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol makes clear that lenders should exhaust all alternatives before considering court action, while advice desks within courts provide information on other options available to both lenders and borrowers.
"And we want to do even more. We have just published a consultation seeking views on restricting the ability of creditors to force people to sell their homes to pay for credit card debts."
What help is available?
Homeowners facing mortgage repayment problems can seek help from a number of sources. These include:
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme
- Mortgage Rescue Scheme
- Shelter (telephone 0808 800 4444)
- National Debtline (telephone 0808 808 4000)
- Consumer Credit Counselling Service (telephone 0800 138 1111)
- Community Legal Advice (telephone 0845 345 4345)
- Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme
- Citizens Advice Bureau