Little change in mortgage payment difficulties

The number of properties taken into possession during the first quarter of 2011 were equal to the average quarterly number of repossessions throughout 2010, revealed the CML.

Of the 11.3 million outstanding first-charge mortgages, a total of 9,100 were taken into possession up 15% from the last quarter of 2010 but 10% lower than the same quarter from 2010.

The total number of arrears also continued to fall in all but the deepest arrears band. At the end of March, the number of mortgages with arrears equivalent to 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance showed an improvement from 170,000 at the end of December 2010 down to 166,900. This was an 11% improvement on the previous year.

The only worsening arrears band was where arrears exceeded 10% of the mortgage balance. This band increased from 27,400 at the end of 2010 to 27,700.

The CML’s current forecast of 40,000 repossessions and 180,000 arrears cases of 2.5% or more at end-year already anticipate short-term pressure on household finances as a result of an expected squeeze on incomes.

Commenting, Michael Coogan, director general at CML, said: “In essence, good arrears management practice is a balance between giving households every chance to rehabilitate and get back on track, and limiting the damage in the minority of cases where this is not going to be achievable.

"Looking ahead, the financial position of many households is likely to be stretched for some while, and some will inevitably find themselves in difficulty. Lenders have a range of options to nurse borrowers through temporary problems, but will clearly need to be mindful of the regulator's concern that too much forbearance may be as bad as too little.

"Any household facing temporary difficulty can be reassured that there are many checks and balances in place to ensure that they are treated fairly, receive good advice, and have every chance to stay in their home where this will be sustainable for them in the long term. If in doubt, take advice from Shelter, Citizens Advice, or National Debtline - and do talk to your lender as they will want to help you."