Numbers only tell part of the story when it comes to repossession. Nevertheless, figures available today from the Ministry of Justice show a fall in the number of repossession claims in the quarter July to September compared with the same period last year. Obviously in principle that is a good thing, as repossession is tough and the impacts on both tenants and landlords are extremely sobering on so many levels.
The basic figures are that repossession claims are down by 5%, at nearly 39,000. The majority of these are in fact for social housing, so the private landlord portion, the bit we are concerned with, is around 15,000. This is well down on the peaks seen through the Credit Crunch and after. However, the most alarming figure in those released today is summed up by the time it takes to actually get to the bailiff achieving the original goal of repossession: apparently the “average number of weeks between the initial claim and repossession by bailiffs stood at 41 weeks in the third quarter of this year”
My word, that’s hard to read without wincing: on average 9 months from the start of the possession claim to actually getting your property back. Remember too that one cannot commence a repossession action until time has elapsed at the outset, usually down to non-payment of rent (typically two months).
So, acknowledging that the loss of a home for a tenant is undeniably tough – it usually comes as a result of some other hardship in life that causes money to dry up – speaking for landlords, the loser in that equation is the owner who has to face nearly a year of zero income based on the reported figures above.
Most landlords I know are not hard-hearted business-folk running greedy operations (in fact, to be clear, none would fit that description), they are people who invested for pensions and who took a huge gamble on bricks and mortar to fund a secure future. So although the stats clearly show that repossessions are a tiny part of the whole landlord universe, let’s not underplay the devastating effect of, first, that moment when you realise the rent is not coming in (but you still have a mortgage to pay), and then multiply that out by nine months-plus of recovery time (and regrettably there’ll be little chance of actual money recovered at the end of that, if using the usual methods to get repossession).
So maybe take a moment to read the article I posted only a week ago entitled “The (unnecessarily) long and winding road….”. It is, admittedly, pretty detailed, but it sets out why a landlord should use an experienced debt-chasing letting agent – it’s your best chance of recovering both house, money and retaining some sense of success.
An interesting observation form a County Court Judge in a case we handled only this week: Northwood Leicester is, in her estimation, extremely rare in managing cases right through the whole process ourselves in-house (“…good for you for taking the trouble”) and that most debt collectors and solicitors acting for landlords stop at the point of repossession of the property and do not pursue the opportunity for the further recovery of the money owed – it’s just too time-consuming and of course that means yet further expense for the already out-of-pocket landlord. Agents are incredibly rarely sufficiently involved to act for landlords, and there is very little in it for them to do so.
If any hint of this is happening to you, I really recommend talking to Gosia Prazeniak at Northwood Leicester; you’ll get considered advice on how to protect yourself and your income, and probably a recommendation to use the Guaranteed Rent Scheme to avoid the whole messy pain in the first place. You can get in touch on 03451 444111 or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org