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Mortgage arrears fall by 6% year-on-year

The mortgage arrears and possessions figures from UK Finance for the first quarter of 2020 show a year-on-year decrease but there was a relatively small rise in arrears compared to Q4 2019.

There were 72,380 homeowner mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the first quarter of 2020, 6% fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year.

Within that total, there were 22,050 homeowner mortgages with more significant arrears (representing 10% or more of the outstanding balance). This was also 6% down on the same quarter last year.


The number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the first quarter of this year was 4,420 – again 6% fewer than in the same quarter in 2019.

Within this, 1,170 buy-to-let mortgages had more significant arrears and this was 3% lower than in the same quarter the year before.

Arrears rise on previous quarter

Comparing the Q1 2020 figures to the previous quarter of Q4 2019, homeowner mortgages in arrears rose 2% from 70,880 while buy-to-let arrears increased marginally from 4,390.

This is likely due to the early effects of Covid-19, and the industry has since introduced multiple forbearance measures to reduce financial difficulties for borrowers who are in need of support. The level of arrears remain low by historical comparisons.

Callum Bilbe, analyst, data & research at UK Finance, explained: “While we did see a modest increase in arrears from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 (the vast majority of which were new arrears in March), this rise relates to the very earliest effects of the Covid-19 outbreak at the start of March, with the payment holiday scheme being introduced shortly after this, helping to prevent further payment issues for borrowers who might be struggling.”


The first quarter of 2020 saw 1,070 homeowner mortgaged properties taken into possession, 23% fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year.

Buy-to-let mortgaged properties taken into possession stood at 640 in Q1 2020 this represents a rise of 8% on the same quarter last year.

Second charge mortgage repossession numbers in Q1 2020 fell to 13, according to the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA). This is down from 24 or 45.8% compared to Q1 2019.

Fiona Hoyle, head of consumer and mortgage finance at the FLA, commented: “The rate of second charge repossessions remains very low – just 0.06% in the twelve months to March 2020, and in line with FCA guidance, repossessions have not been taking place during the Coronavirus period.”

Commenting on the UK Finance figures, Jackie Bennett, UK Finance senior advisor, mortgages, commented: “While the number of mortgages in arrears are down 6% year-on-year for both homeowners and landlords, and the number of possessions down 23% for homeowners, lenders know that coronavirus is currently causing financial difficulty for many customers.

“That’s why the banking and finance industry is working hard to support people during this difficult time, including providing more than 1.6 million mortgage payment holidays and introducing a three-month moratorium on any possessions.”

More arrears in the pipeline

Meanwhile, solicitors Parker Bullen has suggested that 1% of borrowers could default on their loans due to redundancies.

Mark Lello, partner at Parker Bullen, said: “We’re concerned that borrowers, brokers and lenders are not acknowledging the elephant in the room. When the government furlough scheme comes to an end, which it inevitably will for all sectors, early indications suggest we could see 1% or more of workers being made redundant.

“With a dearth of new jobs to go to, people who have been used to years of secure employment could find it very hard to find work in the short term. To aid recovery, many businesses will have to adapt and evolve their operating models. This may include closing business premises, having fewer support staff or making roles that have proved non-essential during lockdown redundant.

“We’re therefore advising brokers and lenders to plan for the worst and prepare for defaults that may occur over the coming months.”

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Tax changes blamed for rise in repossessions

The tax shake up that abolished mortgage interest tax relief for landlords has been touted as a factor behind the rise in the number of buy-to-let properties being repossessed.

Latest figures from trade body UK Finance showed 800 buy-to-let mortgaged properties were taken into possession in the third quarter of 2019 — 40 per cent up year-on-year.

The total had risen gradually since the end of last year, from 550 in the last three months of 2018 to 590 in Q1 2019 and 640 last quarter.

At the start of this year, the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association warned there could be a “watershed” moment during 2019 as landlords begin to feel the effects of the tax shake up.

The changes to mortgage interest relief have been phased into the system since April 2017.

Before 2017, landlords could deduct all mortgage interest payments from their tax bills. This meant they were taxed on their profits, not their turnover, so reduced the overall bill.

But the rule changes meant tax relief on mortgage interest was phased out and instead landlords receive a tax-credit based on 20 per cent of the interest payments.

Based on a property yielding £950 in rent and a £600 mortgage per month, the landlord’s income could drop by about 57 per cent after the rule changes, as the shown in the table:

Tax yearProportion of mortgage interest landlords can deduct from their tax billsTax billPost-tax and mortgage rental income
Prior to April 2017100%£1,680£2,520
From April 20200%£3,120£1,080

Source: Which

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “We said at the time people would be blindsided [by the tax changes].

“Some landlords would have been unaware of the tax changes until they felt them and by that point, they were halfway through an even more challenging tax year.”

Mr Smith thought the government had failed at speaking directly to landlords about the changes, adding he was “massively concerned” about the future of the buy-to-let market.

Dan White, director at Champion Hall and White, agreed. He said: “This may well be the effects of lack of preparation, knowledge and understanding of the tax changes which could well be a result of higher tax bills which were not budgeted by landlords.”

Mr White also said landlords looking to exit the market could be struggling the sell in a stifled property space, resulting in unoccupied properties, arrears and more repossessions.

L&C Mortgages’ director of communications David Hollingworth said it was crucial landlords took advantage of the competitive mortgage rates on offer to manage their costs as well as possible as the changes to tax relief were “feeding through”, while Nick Morrey, product technical manager at John Charcol, said some landlords had probably “thrown in the towel” over the tax changes.

Alan Lakey, director at Highclere Financial, said the market had experienced a “vile mix” of changes which were a “recipe for repossessions”.

Other changes to the buy-to-let space included a 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge for second homes and more stringent affordability testing from the Bank of England.

Martin Stewart, director of the Money Group, said: “I would suggest this a very worrying trend, not only for buy-to-let but for the wider lending environment.

“The good ship UK has been taking on debt for the past ten years and with the seas about to get choppy, I just hope there are enough lifeboats for everyone.”

The Treasury declined to comment due to pre-election restrictions but has previously said the rationale for the policy was that the previous tax system had supported landlords “over and above” ordinary homeowners.

In the Summer Budget of 2015, when the rules were announced, the Treasury stated the ability to deduct mortgage interest costs put investing in rental property “at an advantage”.

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Advised

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Buy To Let Repossessions Up In The UK

The number of buy to let repossessions of investment properties in the UK rose substantially in the third quarter of 2019.

Figures released this week from banking trade body UK Finance revealed a 40 per cent rise in buy to let repossessions on last year.

Around 800 buy to let repossessions were carried out in the third quarter of 2019, compared to 570 in the same quarter of the previous year.

However, there were 4,550 buy to let mortgages in arrears of 2.5 per cent or more of the outstanding balance in the third quarter of 2019, five per cent fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year.

The number of buy to let investors in arrears of between 5 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the outstanding balance also fell by 21 per cent over the year.

In contrast, the number of buy to let investors in arrears of between 7.5 and 10 per cent grew by 9 per cent, while the number in arrears of over 10 per cent dropped just 1 per cent, according to the UK Finance figures.

However, the banking trade body has stated that it believes the large increase in buy to let repossessions due partly to a ‘backlog of historic cases’.

Rules were changed two years ago by the city regulator on how lenders have to calculate how much a borrower owes each month if they fall into arrears. This has led to lenders reviewing a large number of cases on an individual basis and applying for buy to let repossessions ‘only when all other options have been exhausted’ according to UK Finance.

However, David Smith of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said: ‘Repossessions for mortgage arrears take place for many different reasons.

‘Mortgage interest relief changes, which are now almost fully implemented, the increasing cost of regulation and the ever-increasing time to repossess a property are all major factors.’

‘Since most repossessions of this kind lead to tenants being evicted it is vital that the next government actively supports the majority of landlords doing a good job to provide the homes to rent the country needs.’

Source: Residential Landlord