Eviction heartbreak for 200,000 homes

Miniature house with lock and key

More than 200,000 households in England faced eviction or repossession last year, according to research by housing charity Shelter.

One in every 105 homes were mired in possession claims from landlords or mortgage lenders between October 2012 and September 2013 - and in London that rate was doubled.
The charity tracked active court proceedings against census data on the number of households to find 30 eviction hotspots where the threat of losing your house is heaviest.

The worst local authority was Newham, which topped a list dominated by London boroughs with one active claim for every 35 households.
But local authorities in Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham and Peterborough also featured, with eviction or repossession claim rates of between 1 in 60 and 1 in 63.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: "It is heartbreaking to see that so many people in England face spending Christmas with the threat of losing their home hanging over them.

"Seeing that one home in every hundred is at risk is a frightening reminder that homelessness can happen to anyone. Times are tough, and these days it doesn't take much to tip a family into the spiral that leads to homelessness.

"The Government needs to rebuild our shredded housing safety net so that it's there to catch those that fall on hard times, and allow them to get back on their feet as quickly as possible."

The figures reveal the extent of the housing crisis in London, which has 19 of the worst 30 authorities, including Hackney, Croydon, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets.

They come after Shelter highlighted the 80,000 children without a home this Christmas - most packed into temporary accomodation in "shocking conditions" with whole families living in one room.

The charity stressed that while not every possession claim is successful, each one means someone is in legal danger of losing their home.

The Ministry of Justice estimates that in England and Wales 22.5% of claims by mortgage lenders and 23.% by landlords are successful - not counting people who leave 'voluntarily' before the bailiffs are called in.

Security guard Aubrey Matemba, 39, from Northolt, faced losing the home he shared with his partner and one-month-old child after falling behind on his mortgage payments when depression forced him to take time off work.

He said: I never imagined I'd be faced with spending this Christmas homeless - it just shows how a bit of bad luck can easily tip you into a downward spiral.

"I tried almost everything to make sure my family would have a roof over our heads but was starting to give up hope."

Mr Matemba received advice from Shelter's Mortgage Rescue Scheme and was able to keep his house.

The authors said: "This report only covers cases where a possession claim has been made and a court process has begun.

"Many more households than this are struggling to keep up with the payments on their homes, and may voluntarily move or sell rather than face enforced eviction through the courts."
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