Social landlord possession claims leap up
Possession claims by social landlords leapt up by 8 per cent in the first quarter of the year, according to a legal information provider.
Figures obtained from county courts by company Sweet & Maxwell show the claims went up from 23,189 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 25,207.
The number of successful claims went up by 5.6 per cent from 16,174 to 17,130 over the same periods.
The sharp increase ends a three-year downward trend in possession claims by social landlords and both figures [claims and successful claims] are at their highest quarterly levels since the peak of the recession in the first quarter of 2009, Sweet & Maxwell found.
Most of social housing possession orders are for rent arrears, the company said. It believes the rise in figures is the effect of the double dip recession now showing in the social housing market. It says although possession claims traditionally peak in first quarter of the year after the expensive winter season, this year’s figures are worse than usual.
‘These figures are a sign that an increasing number of people simply cannot pay their rent as the economy dips again,’ said property barrister Daniel Dovar.
‘Many of Britain’s social housing tenants are facing a crisis of rent arrears.’
He added: ‘While some possession orders are the result of anti-social behaviour or illegal subletting, the fact is that most orders are issued because the tenant’s rent arrears have become unsustainable.’
He believed the government’s affordable rent scheme, which allows landlords to set rent at up to 80 per cent of the market rate, could soon cause a further hike in social housing possession figures.
Mr Dovar also said: ‘Social housing landlords tend to be much slower than private landlords in resorting to legal action when faced with rent arrears.
‘They are much more likely to work with social housing tenants to obtain a positive outcome, and are subject to a specific pre-action protocol, so this rise in possession applications shows how severe the problem is becoming.’