Fewer property possession claims at Northampton court

Fewer property possession claims were made at Northampton's county court in the lead up to the coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

By Katie Williams
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 2:20 pm
Northampton County Court
Northampton County Court

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick recently extended a ban on new evictions from social and private housing for two months until the end of August, meaning no renters will be forced from their home over the summer.

But charity Shelter said although the move will buy time for vulnerable tenants weeks away from potentially losing their home, it is "only a stop gap".

Ministry of Justice data shows 409 property possession claims were submitted to the county court at Northampton between January and March.

Of those, 67 were from mortgage lenders, while the rest were made by social and private landlords.

Claims had fallen by 15% compared to the same three months in 2019, the figures show.​

It reflected the picture across England and Wales as a whole, where mortgage and landlord possession claims fell by 20% to 29,000 in the same period. The MoJ said this was driven by "actions around Covid-19".

The Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that mortgage payment holidays, first introduced in March, would be extended for borrowers hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

A suspension of housing possession proceedings to protect private and social renters has also been extended until August 23.

Announcing this extension, Mr Jenrick said: "No-one will be evicted from their home this summer due to the coronavirus.

"We are working with the judiciary on proposals to ensure that when evictions proceedings do recommence, arrangements are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by the coronavirus."

However, Shelter chief executive Polly Neate warned the ban hasn't stopped those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic from building up rent arrears.

She said although the Government has reset the clock on the evictions ban, "it is only a stop gap".

"Even if they have a plan to pay them back, these debts will throw struggling renters straight back into the firing line of an automatic eviction as soon as the ban does lift," she added.

"Judges must be given the power to stop people losing their homes because of the coronavirus, otherwise the country will face a tidal wave of homelessness after August."

The Covid 19 crisis has reduced county court activity, with a 9% fall in all types of claims nationally compared to the same period last year.

In Northampton, claims dropped by ​6%.

The court also saw 156 judgements made between January and March this year - an increase of ​16% on 2019 - while the number of warrants issued fell by 13% to 301.

In a report accompanying the latest data, a MoJ spokesman said: "The total number of county court claims has fallen across almost all case types in the last year, driven largely by money claims and, in particular, specified money claims.

The spokesman added that the period covered includes "only minimal" impact from Covid-19 on court activity as a whole.