A league table of the 20 counties worst hit by repossessions shows Leicestershire has the highest rate with a 30 per cent increase in full court orders (583 granted) and a 111 per cent increase in suspended orders (905 granted.)
Suspended orders are granted when an arrangement is made to pay off the arrears. They allow the lender to repossess immediately if the borrower defaults.
Other counties badly hit by suspended orders are Staffordshire, with an 82 per cent increase, Hertfordshire (35 per cent), Merseyside (32 per cent), Lancashire (30 per cent) and Essex (29 per cent). Counties where the number of full court orders have increased include Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Lancashire and Bedfordshire.
The number of court orders illustrates the trend in repossessions but does not show the actual number. Not all full court orders are automatically carried out. If the repayments agreed under a suspended order are not made the lender can repossess without reapplying to the court for a full court order. Last year building societies indicated about 80 per cent of full court orders were implemented and about 45 per cent of suspended orders.
Carol Grant, editor of Roof, said: 'These figures show that for many families the threat of repossession is simply being delayed rather than lifted.
'Lenders are now going for more suspended orders because this allows them to repossess these homes if and when market conditions allow.'
And she warned: 'There are two main factors which could trigger another big rise in repossessions: rising house prices, enabling lenders to sell repossessed homes for more money than they can get now; and the growing bad debt provisions in the industry itself - how long can lenders afford to allow arrears to mount?'
However, two of the biggest mortgage lenders say their mortgage rescue schemes and efforts to reschedule arrears have resulted in a fall in repossessions.
A press officer for the Halifax building society said: 'Figures for the first six months of 1992 show a 40 per cent decrease in repossessions compared with the last six months of 1991.'
And a spokesman for the Abbey National said its repossessions had dropped from 4,636 in the first half of 1991 to 4,139 in the first six months of this year.
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