Action call over rise in landlord court claims

Landlords lodged more claims to repossess properties from tenants in Sunderland in the final three months of last year, new figures reveal.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 8:41 am
More tenants are facing court action over arrears

Landlords submitted 35 possession claims for tenants’ homes in the city between October and December, Ministry of Justice data shows.

This was up from 32 over the previous three months, although still well below the 136 claims made during the same period in 2019.

In the three months to December, there were also:

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*11 orders for tenants to leave their home by a certain date

*21 suspended possession orders letting tenants stay, providing they keep up their payments and pay back funds owed

*12 warrants to evict people in breach of previous orders

The Government recently extended a ban on evictions – put in place to stop renters becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic – until the end of March but it had previously been lifted in September before being reinstated during the second lockdown.

While landlords can still issue possession claims in court, bailiffs are not allowed to evict people except in certain cases, including when tenants have built up significant arrears.

Nationally, around 8,200 repossession claims were lodged between October and December – up from just 3,800 the previous three months.

The Resolution Foundation is urging the Government to provide more financial help for people struggling to pay their rent amid a “mounting arrears crisis”.

The think tank’s research director, Lindsay Judge, said: “The UK is currently experiencing a mounting arrears crisis.

“Measures that could ease the pressure, such as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and negotiated rent reductions from landlords, are not getting through to those that need them.”

The group is calling for ministers to improve access to the DHP scheme and introduce a national tenant loan system to ease the pressure on renters, landlords and the courts.

A Government spokesman said: “Our increases to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit are helping to reduce rent arrears.

“Councils can also provide additional support to renters through the £180m Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.

“Our ban on bailiff evictions except for the most serious of cases and action to extend notice periods has seen the number of repossessions between October and December down 93% from the same quarter in 2019.”