Struggle to find homes

WORRYING numbers of homeowners in Wigan are facing the threat of eviction for failing to keep up with their mortgage payments, latest figures reveal.

A report by the Ministry of Justice has shown 155 mortgage possession claims were issued to householders in Wigan in just three months, from April to June this year.

In total, 125 claims led to court orders which grant lenders repossession of homes in the borough. That’s a whopping 24 per cent rise on the second quarter of 2010.

There were also 105 landlord possession claims in Wigan in the same period - a six per cent increase compared with April to June 2010.

In total, 70 of these claims led to court orders instigating the repossession of homes: a six per cent rise.

Chris Harris, manager of Wigan’s Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We were aware lenders were holding back because of concerns over negative equity until they felt it worthwhile to repossess properties.

“We now have an increased presence at county court, with more case workers to help keep people in their homes.

“We have also seen success with our partnership with the council’s Housing Option Advice Centre and the homelessness charity Shelter.”

Lisa Gregory, office manager at Wigan’s Unfiy Credit Union, said: “Banks have to recoup their money each month, but often lenders will listen.

“The best option for anyone facing repossession of their home is to contact Wigan’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). They have workers to offer advice even when mortgage repossession claims have reached the courts.”

During the recession, lenders were told by the Government to use repossession only as last resort. But as the austerity measures take hold, more homeowners are expected to fall behind in repayments.

To obtain a court order granting the entitlement to take possession of a property, a claimant - a lender or a landlord - must make a claim to the county court.

This involves an initial hearing before a judge. At such a hearing, the court may grant an order for possession of the property.

In total, there have been 655 mortgage possession claims from July 2010 to June this year.

Of these, 545 mortgage possession claims led to orders - a 12 per cent increase from the previous 12 months.