• A total of 9 out of the 10 areas with the highest number of landlord and mortgage repossessions per 1,000 households were in London in 2019.
  • Local areas close to, but outside, London’s boundary, such as Slough (3.3 per 1,000 households), Thurrock (2.7 per 1,000 households) and Southend-on-Sea (2.5 per 1,000 households) were among the areas with the highest 10% of repossession rates in England.
  • There were 34,000 repossessions in England in 2019. Birmingham City Council had the highest number at 1,056 repossessions, although other areas, such as London, had higher rates per 1,000 households.

This map shows the number of mortgage repossessions to homeowners and landlord repossessions to private and social renters per 1,000 households in a local authority in 2019. Repossession is defined here as taking place by county court bailiffs (although, in some cases, repossessions may take place through less formal procedures which are not counted in these figures).

Insecure housing poses a risk to health, as it can undermine people’s sense of control over their environment and act as a stressor. Research has found that accumulating housing cost arrears, housing payment problems and imminent eviction and/or repossession can have a considerable impact on psychological wellbeing.

  • Local areas in London had the highest rates of repossession in 2019. In Newham there were 4.5 repossessions for every 1,000 households and this rate was closely followed by Barking and Dagenham, where the rate was 4.1 repossessions per 1,000 households.
  • Boroughs in outer London had higher rates than those in inner London, with rates of 2.6 and 2.2 repossessions per 1,000 households, respectively. This pattern, coupled with high rates in South East areas that were close to the London boundary, such as Slough (3.3 per 1,000), Thurrock (2.7 per 1,000) and Southend-on-Sea (2.5 per 1,000), aligns with research suggesting the increase in poverty in suburban areas (known as the ‘suburbanisation of poverty’) of cities, such as London.
  • The North East was the only region where every local authority had a repossession rate above 1 per 1,000 households. Middlesbrough had the highest rates in the region with 2.6 repossessions per 1,000 households. 
  • Areas in South West England had the lowest rates of repossession at 0.9 per 1,000 households. However, Torbay stands in contrast to other local authorities in this region, with 2.6 repossessions per 1,000 households. 

Areas in the London and South East England regions with typically higher housing costs may have higher rates of repossession as people find it harder to meet mortgage and rent payments. Housing is traditionally cheaper in North East England, but weaker labour markets and higher rates of unemployment may result in a failure to meet housing payments.

In response to the pandemic, the Coronavirus Act 2020 was introduced in March 2020 and this had several implications for the repossession process, such as: the suspension of ongoing repossessions from March to September 2020, and from August 2020 to May 2021 the notice period ahead of repossession proceedings was extended to 6 months. Also, bailiffs could not repossess properties during national lockdowns or local lockdowns in England. The map uses 2019 data to show how the repossession landscape looked before these policies led to a significant drop in repossession actions in 2020.

The risk levels of losing a home vary across England. Typically, rates of repossession are thought to be highest where housing costs are highest, relative to earnings. While this theory still largely holds true, the map shows that areas of high deprivation and low housing costs can also face high levels of evictions and repossessions. Therefore, support is needed in areas with both high and low housing costs.

An increase in housing benefit could improve affordability for social and private renters in areas with high and low housing costs. This financial support is needed in the short term, along with a simultaneous increase in the social share of housing stock and building new affordable homes for the future.

  • In this analysis, the quarterly statistics for mortgage and landlord repossessions have been aggregated to create a 2019 total for each local authority in England.
  • The repossession data are based on the address of the defendant (the person whose home is being repossessed). This means that in some mortgage repossession cases, where defendants have a second home or a buy-to-let mortgage in a different local authority to their current address, counts do not necessarily reflect local repossessions accurately. 
  • The number of households originates from the Office for National Statistics household projections and is 2018-based. Projections estimate the future number of households and are based on a set of assumptions relating to future population and household formations. These estimates are not an exact count of households. 

Source: Ministry of Justice, Mortgage and landlord possession statistics quarterly local authority data, England: 2019, Office for National Statistics, Household projections 2018 based, local authorities and higher administrative areas within England, mid-2001 to mid-2043, England: 2019

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