Number of repossessions to fall further

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THE number of families losing their homes is expected to show another fall when figures for repossession orders in the first three months of the year are released today from the Lord Chancellor's Department, writes Vivien Goldsmith.

The number of court cases peaked in the third quarter of 1992 at 51,000 with 49,000 orders granted, and has been steadily falling. In the last quarter of 1992 there were 29,500 cases with 27,500 repossession orders granted.

The decline is partly due to lenders becoming more tolerant of house owners in arrears.

Woolwich Building Society has seen a 10 per cent drop in possessions in the past three months. Halifax and Nationwide also report a fall in properties being taken into possession.

Mortgage rescue schemes were forged 16 months ago in the glare of publicity over repossessions. But any enthusiasm to turn home owners into tenants using housing associations quickly evaporated.

Yesterday Bradford & Bingley Building Society, the seventh largest lender with 330,000 borrowers, claimed to have the most successful mortgage-to-rent scheme. In the year it has been running, it has enabled 160 households to stay in their own homes, and a further 250 families are due to complete the transition to tenants in the next few months.