Hundreds of social tenants lose their homes as repossessions hit seven year high in Wales

Social housing repossessions hit a seven year high this year in Wales with nearly a thousand social tenant households losing their homes, a leading housing charity has revealed.

Shelter Cymru analysed Ministry of Justice data on court possessions and found that while mortgage repossessions have fallen in recent years, repossessions in social housing have risen 12 per cent over the last year and are now at the highest level since before the recession.

John Puzey, Director of Shelter Cymru, said: “This year has been particularly tough for social tenants, many of whom have suffered due to changes in welfare benefits and the rising costs of living. We have been working with landlords to ensure that they are doing everything they can to help tenants stay afloat – but these figures show that more clearly needs to be done.

“While some landlords are working hard to help tenants make the most of their income, others are failing to put support in place and are rushing to court far too quickly. We are hearing that some have started charging rent in advance from new tenants, forcing families into debt right from the outset of their tenancies.”

Social housing repossessions peaked in January to March 2014 – during these months Welsh social landlords were making more than 21 households homeless per week or three households homeless every day.

Across all tenures, nearly 2,200 households had their homes repossessed by bailiffs in Wales – equivalent to more than 42 households every week or six households per day. Many more would have lost their homes without going to court, so would not be included in these figures.

John Puzey added: “Tenants who are evicted from social housing have very few options open to them. Other landlords often won’t take them on if they have arrears so the only choice is the private rented sector where they may be vulnerable to rogue landlords.

“The worst time of year for repossessions is always the first three months of the year. This year, perhaps social landlords should show some forbearance post-Christmas and not rush to court as soon as the holidays are over.”

The figures are based on analysis of Ministry of Justice Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics available here

Over the last year (Oct 13 to Sept 14 – most recent figures available) 2,195 households had their homes repossessed by bailiffs in Wales. There were 1,002 mortgage repossessions; 958 repossessions from social housing; and 235 PRS repossessions.

Shelter Cymru is Wales’s People and Homes charity. We have offices all over Wales and prevent people from losing their homes by offering free, confidential and independent advice.

Last year we helped nearly 15,000 people, preventing homelessness in 89 per cent of the cases where it was faced, while more than 140,000 people visited our website looking for help.