Rotherham targeted as house repossession hotspot

ROTHERHAM has been named as a repossession "hotspot" as part of a drive to encourage households struggling to make ends meet to get help with paying their bills.Advertisements highlighting the range of government support available to homeowners w

ROTHERHAM has been named as a repossession "hotspot" as part of a drive to encourage households struggling to make ends meet to get help with paying their bills.

Advertisements highlighting the range of government support available to homeowners will appear in newspapers and on websites and billboards in the borough to raise awareness among those battling to keep the bailiffs at bay.

Rotherham is one of 34 towns and areas in a second batch of hotspots highlighted by Housing Minister and Wentworth MP John Healey.

Homes in hotspots are considered at greater risk due to higher levels of unemployment and the number of court orders for repossession.

Mr Healey announced that he was extending into 2010 a Government campaign offering free and impartial help and advice both online and over the phone.

Homeowners can go to www.direct.gov.uk/mortgagehelp (external link) or call the National Debtline free on 0808 808 4000 to get advice on support available.

Rules have also been tightened so that mortgage lenders must inform councils when repossession action is started against residents in their area, allowing councils able to step in and offer advice and help for those most in need.

There are also tougher tests for lenders in courts, with a new checklist in place to ensured that they have exhausted every option before taking repossession action.

Mr Healey said: "I am extending our campaign so that anyone with mortgage worries in 34 new repossession hotspots knows about the comprehensive range of support on offer, helping more people to avoid losing their homes.

"We have also tightened the rules so repossession is always the last resort and lenders have to consider all options to keep borrowers in their homes. "Lenders must also inform councils if one of their residents faces court action so they can have access to the schemes we've put in place to help."

Figures released last Thursday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed that there were 11,700 repossessions nationally over the past three months—up slightly on the previous quarter but down eight per cent on the first three months of 2009.

The CML said that it was revising down its forecast for the number of repossessions this year from 65,000 to 48,000 and cut its prediction of the number of homeowners in arrears of more than 2.5 per cent of their mortgage balance from 360,000 to 195,000.