Croydon and Lewisham on repossession black list

House repossession up in Croydon and Lewisham. Photo: Marianne Brown

House repossession up in Croydon and Lewisham. Photo: Marianne Brown

Croydon and Lewisham are among thirty-four repossession ‘hot spots’ named by the government last week.

The list was published after the Council for Mortgage Lenders revealed repossessions rose in the third quarter of 2009.

According to the CML around 11,700 properties were repossessed between July and September, 5% higher than the same time last year. However, numbers did not top the 12,700 in the first quarter.

The CML said it is now revising its prediction on the numbers of repossessions this year down from 65,000 to 48,000.

John Healey, Minister for Housing, said the risk of repossessions remains high throughout the year but measures have been put in place to stem the problem.

Rules have been tightened so mortgage lenders must inform councils when repossession action is started, allowing councils to step in and offer advice and help for those most in need.

Healey said so far 300,000 families had been helped via the scheme during the recession.

Council for Mortgage Lenders director general, Michael Coogan, said low interest rates and lenders’ forbearance policies have helped to cushion many households facing financial problems.

He said: “Although the economy is not out of the woods yet, we no longer expect a dramatic rise in properties being taken into possession unless interest rates rise.”

A spokesman from the Citizens Advice Bureau said forbearance from lenders, lower interest rates and government measures and guidance from the Council of Mortgage Lenders were helping people struggling with mortgage repayments.

“The really vital thing is that people should actively engage with their lender early on,” he said.

One woman living in Lewisham, who didn’t want to be named, said her payments had been in arrears for the last two months.

“I lost my job as a receptionist and I couldn’t pay the mortgage. I phoned the citizen’s advice and they are helping me sort something out. I feel better knowing there’s help.”

The total number of mortgage possession claims in Croydon in the third quarter of 2009 was 250, down 26% over the same period last year. In Lewisham there were 175 claims, down 47% over 2008.

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