Business

Property repossessions 'lowest since 1980'

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The number of homes repossessed in the UK fell to its lowest level since 1980 last year, industry figures show.

There were 4,580 homes repossessed by mortgage lenders from owners who were unable to keep up with repayments on their home loans.

Low mortgage rates and a less aggressive attitude from lenders has meant low levels of repossession in recent years.

Mortgage arrears among homeowners have also been falling.

Buy-to-let arrears

The figures from UK Finance, which represents lenders, showed that the number of landlords falling behind on mortgage repayments was unchanged in the final quarter of last year compared with the same three months in 2017.

However, within this group, there was a 7% rise in buy-to-let mortgage holders with significant levels of arrears, defined as 10% or more of the outstanding mortgage.

There are just over nine million homeowners with mortgages in the UK, and they have been encouraged to keep a close eye on their finances.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: "There is no room for complacency. Possessions may be declining but that can change and borrowers need to be prepared. We suspect that when it comes to their finances there are many people who don't have a buffer to tide them over should they get into difficulty.

"Interest rates remain at low levels but there is always a chance they could rise. Borrowers must plan ahead and consider how they would cope if this happens."

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: "We would always encourage anyone with concerns about making their mortgage repayments to contact their lender to discuss the options and support available to them. Repossession is always a last resort."

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