Evictions warning as repossession orders climb 15%

A BBC Wales analysis of official data reveals a 15% increase in the number of repossession orders in the first four months of this year

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There is a warning of a surge in the number of tenants being evicted in Wales, according to housing bodies.

A BBC Wales analysis of official data reveals a 15% increase in the number of repossession orders in the first four months of 2012.

Courts granted 1,125 repossession orders to Welsh landlords between January and April this year - up from 975 for the last four months of 2011.

A landlords' group said going to court was the last resort.

Organisations including the Welsh Tenants Association, Consumer Credit Counselling Service, Community Housing Cymru and Shelter Cymru have told BBC Wales the situation will get worse as a mixture of the recession and changes to housing benefits start to take effect.

Pressure

They fear financial pressures mean more tenants are falling behind with their rent.

Start Quote

What the vast majority of landlords will do is come up with a payment plan because they don't want to get rid of tenants”

End Quote David Cox National Landlords Association

Steve Clarke, from the Welsh Tenants Association, told BBC Wales: "Every aspect of cost in people's lives is rising, and that's having an impact on rents and people's ability to pay rent.

"So for us the welfare reform changes and the economic situation is making it worse."

Huw Davies, a debt advisor with the Cardiff-based Consumer Credit Counselling Service, said a growing number of people were turning to payday loans.

"Quite often, the more serious things to fall behind are the ones not pressing them the most," he said.

"They can be dealing with somebody at the door, may be getting threatening letters, even phone calls, whereas obviously with rent arrears and council tax they're not quite so forthcoming with the collection so it's a case where they're paying whoever shouts the loudest.

"So people find themselves falling behind, and going into arrears."

Landlords must follow certain eviction procedures set out by law to get their property back from a tenant.

First they must serve notice on their tenant to leave the property. If that is unsuccessful they must send a "notice of intention to seek possession".

This lets the tenant know that the landlord plans to apply to the court for a possession order to evict them if they do not leave.

Only then can they seek a repossession order from a court.

National Landlords Association policy director David Cox said seeking to evict a tenant will always be a last resort.

"What the vast majority of landlords will do is come up with a payment plan because they don't want to get rid of tenants," he said.

"Ending a tenancy, especially going through the possessions court can take many months and can be very expensive for the landlord and therefore it's not financially viable so doesn't make business sense."

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