Havering’s postcode area is second worst in country for home repossessions - report

Home repossessions in the second half of 2011 were nearly twice the national average in the RM postcode area, predominantly covering Havering, according to a report.

Within the area, which also takes in parts of Brentwood, Barking and Dagenham, Epping Forest, Redbridge and Thurrock, 28 out of every 10,000 homes were repossessed under a court order between July and December, the report by chartered surveyors e.surv said.

Nikki Sedin, director of the 147-room YMCA in Romford’s Rush Green Road, confirmed the hostel was housing more people who had become homeless following repossession.

“The perception of homeless hostels is they’re full of degenerates and druggies. In this day and age that’s not the case,” she told the Recorder.

“We have people who’ve had a mortgage, a nice house and a business – but because of the climate we’re in, they’ve lost their business and their marriage has broken down and it ends up with their home being repossessed. We’ve noticed a lot more of that in the hostel.”

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In the report, e.surv’s business development director Richard Sexton said public sector austerity and unemployment were likely responsible.

“On top of that, the cost of funding mortgages is increasing for banks,” he added. “They simply can’t afford to support as many struggling borrowers.”

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Ms Sedin said the YMCA had a waiting list of about 40 people – and some residents were staying longer as they faced difficulties finding homes of their own.

“Our ethos is to help our people to move on. It’s meant to be a stopgap,” she said. “But council properties are a lot harder to come by and people don’t seem to be moving up the scale.”

Homelessness charity Shelter’s chief exec Campbell Robb said: “The journey from being a homeowner to becoming homeless is frighteningly swift, with just one small thing like a wage cut, a health problem or a job loss meaning a family can no longer meet mortgage payments.

“If you are struggling with mortgage arrears, you may be able to negotiate with your mortgage provider and avoid repossession, so seek advice from organisations like Shelter as soon as your problems start.”

For free advice, call Shelter on 08088 004 444.

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