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Record number of landlords using bailiffs

Landlords are turning in record numbers to bailiffs to repossess properties that have been the subject of county court judgments.

A new report has found that bailiffs were called in some 41,489 cases in the year to March 2015, compared to 37,706 for the previous year – an increase of 10 per cent.
 
The rise seems to have been driven by the financial hardships experienced by many tenants, who are unable to meet their rent obligations. Although wages are now starting to increase in real terms after many years of economic stagnation, rental costs are rising faster. The trend has been particularly pronounced in London, where residential properties are collecting higher than ever rents.
 
The speed with which landlords default to court orders and bailiffs (rather than negotiating with tenants or offering them greater leeway) is itself being driven by financial hardship. High demand for property means that both property rental and purchase prices are booming, and despite the historically low rate on mortgages, buy-to-let owners are often hard-pressed to meet their monthly payments. Tenants who occupy a property without paying the agreed rent are a liability than few can afford, and fewer landlords are willing to take the time and risk of recovering late payments.
 
As a result, there has also been a sharp increase in the number of accelerated procedure notices (APNs). These provide a way of speeding up repossession in cases where landlords are not seeking to collect unpaid rent. Rather than go to the lengthy and troublesome process of a full court hearing, landlords are opting to forego the funds due in the interests of getting unwanted tenants out of their property as quickly as possible, so they can take on someone who will be able to pay their bills. The number of APNs rose 11 per cent in the last year, to 29,821.

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