THE threat of home repossessions are at record levels in Chester – with buy-to-let landlords particularly being hit.
New figures from the courts show that the city has shown the North West’s biggest jump in orders allowing mortgage lenders to repossess from landlords caught in the credit crunch.
Repossessions of buy to let homes means that tenants are also evicted and are forced to find alternative places to live.
Ministry of Justice figures for the number of court cases launched to take back homes for between April and June reveal that possession orders by county courts - which allows a lender to apply for an eviction warrant on a landlord – jumped by 88% in Chester compared with the same period last year.
In just three months, 75 buy-to-let landlords were threatened with re-possession by court action.
During the same period, homeowners suffered too, with 146 mortgage possession orders made in the county court – a 27% rise.
Nationally, the number of court cases launched to take back homes was the highest figure since 1992.
Not all orders result in the properties actually being repossessed, but the Citizens Advice Bureau in Chester each week deal with an average of 30 clients referred to County Court.
It liases between clients and the County Court Judge to try to reach practical settlements.
Chris Reynolds, of Chester CAB, said there has been an 8% increase in debt enquiries to CAB since last year.
He added: “A lot of repossessions happen because of loss of jobs, relationship breakdowns and people take out a lot of debt.
“They are unable to maintain repayments. People who have taken out mortgages in the last five years are especially vulnerable, people who bought before then have better protection.
“Some threatened with repossession are having their homes bought and being offered to stay as tenants, but that way they lose their security of tenure.”
Caren Evens is an advisor at Letting Station, an online letting agent based at Station House, Chester city centre. She has been in the business for 15 years.
She said: “I can see the way we’re going is quite similar to the way we are going in the early 1990s.
“A number of people with 10s and even 100s of properties overloaded themselves.
“It’s gone form one extreme to another – now lenders aren’t lending.”