Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: January to March 2022
Published 19 May 2022
1. Main Points
This publication provides mortgage and landlord possession statistics up to January to March 2022. In general, we have compared figures to the same quarter in 2019 as a pre-Covid-19 baseline. Should users wish to compare the latest outturn against 2021, they can do so using the accompanying statistical tables. For technical detail, please refer to the accompanying supporting document.
|All possession actions by both landlords and mortgage providers have reduced significantly following Covid-19 impact and associated actions||The recovery in Civil Courts continues, following the passing of the Coronavirus Act in March 2020 and other policy responses which led to unprecedentedly low levels of possession actions. As a result, the data is unlikely to be representative of general trends. Caution should therefore be used when interpreting and applying these figures.|
|Mortgage claims, orders, warrants and repossessions have decreased significantly when compared to pre-Covid levels||Compared to 2019, pre-Covid-19, mortgage possession claims, orders, warrants and repossessions by county court bailiffs have decreased by 53%, 47%, 55% and 57% respectively. However, compared to the same quarter in 2021, all mortgage actions increased by over 100%. This is in line with the recovery referred to above. Mortgage possession claims increased from 735 to 2,890, orders from 145 to 2,293, warrants from 43 to 2,162 and repossessions by county court bailiffs increased from 3 to 571.|
|Landlord possession actions have also all decreased significantly||The pattern is repeated for landlord possession actions. When compared to the same quarter in 2019, landlord possession claims, orders, warrants and repossessions by county court bailiffs have decreased by 37%, 45%, 57% and 55% respectively. However, when compared to the same quarter in 2021, over 100% increases were recorded across all actions. Possession claims rose from 6,376 to 19,033, orders from 5,424 to 12,975, warrants from 2,499 to 6,817 and repossessions from 269 to 3,763.|
|Mortgage and Landlord possession claims, and repossession rates have fallen across all regions||Decreases in possession claims have been recorded in all regions. Landlord claims remained concentrated in London (with 7 of the highest 10 claim rates).|
|Mortgage median average time (from claim to repossession) has increased||The median average time from claim to mortgage repossession has increased to 110.6 weeks, up from 39.4 weeks in the same period in 2019. In the same quarter in 2021, the median average time was 15.7 weeks, however, it should be noted this was based on only 3 cases.|
|Median timeliness for landlord repossessions has increased when compared to 2019 and 2020 and decreased when compared to 2021||The median average time from claim to landlord repossession has increased to 27.3 weeks, up from 20.6 weeks in the same period in 2019. In the same quarter in 2021, the median average time was 57.6 weeks.|
A data visualisation tool has also been published this quarter that provides further breakdowns in a web-based application. The tool can be found here.
For feedback related to the content of this publication and visualisation tool, please contact us at CAJS@justice.gov.uk
2. Statistician’s Comment
This report covers the quarter to the end of March 2022 and shows continued gradual recovery in all court actions when compared to the same period last year. Although progress is being made, the pandemic continues to have a significant negative affect over all these statistics.
Claim volumes for Mortgage and Landlord possession continue to increase following the lifting of bailiff restrictions. Claims issued have increased quarter on quarter since Q2 and are currently 60% of baseline levels.
Landlord possession claims issued have decreased by 37% against the baseline but a further drill down reveals private landlord possession claims are now back to pre-Covid-19 levels and make up a third of all claims. This is higher than its pre-Covid-19 proportion. In contrast, social landlord claims as a proportion of the total caseload have almost halved (from around 63% in Q1 2019 to 34%) this quarter.
Bailiffs have begun working through the backlog of repossessions and enforcement actions, dating back to the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, although numbers remain below pre-Covid-19 levels, they are rising steadily, when compared to the same period last quarter, and this is expected to continue throughout the year.
Timeliness continues to remain volatile as figures still include the long tail of possession claims and evictions stayed as part of pandemic measures. Due to this, all timeliness figures increased compared to the same period in 2019. However, compared to the same period in 2021, landlord claims to repossessions median timeliness decreased.
The volatility recorded in the numbers presented, should be considered within the context of small volumes and the invariable additional time needed where normal court procedures could not be followed.
3. Overview of Mortgage Possession
Mortgage possession actions are slowly recovering from the impacts of Covid-19, with claims, orders and warrants currently around 53%, 47% and 55% below pre-Covid levels in Q1 2019.
As a result of coronavirus and associated actions, all mortgage possession actions have dropped significantly. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, mortgage possession claims (2,890) are down 53%. Mortgage orders for possession (2,293) are down 47%, warrants issued (2,162) are down 55% and repossessions (571) are down 57%.
Figure 1: Mortgage possession actions (actual and seasonally adjusted[footnote 1]) in the county courts of England and Wales, January to March 2017 to January to March 2022 (Source: Table 10a)
Mortgage possession claims fell from a peak of 26,419 in April to June 2009 before stabilising from April to June 2015 (4,849, see table 10a). In the most recent quarter, January to March 2022, there were 2,890 claims for possession, down 53% from the same quarter in 2019.
Orders and warrants for possession followed a similar trend to mortgage claims, falling from a peak of 23,850 orders in July to September 2009 and 21,350 warrants in January to March 2009, and stabilizing around 2016/17. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, orders are down 47% to 2,293 and warrants are down 55% to 2,162 in January to March 2022.
Historically, repossessions by county court bailiffs fell from a high of 9,284 in Q1 of 2009 to 934 in Q3 of 2018, the lowest recorded level of the series at the time. Following the complete cessation of repossession proceedings from March to September 2020 where no repossessions took place, the FCA guidance advised mortgage lenders not to commence or continue possession proceedings until April 2021 (unless there were special circumstances). As a result, there were only 10 repossessions over the whole of last year from April 2020 to March 2021 (Q2 2020 to Q1 2021), and only 571 in January to March 2022, down 57% compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Before the impact of coronavirus, the historical fall in the number of mortgage possession actions since 2008 has generally coincided with lower interest rates, a proactive approach from lenders in managing consumers in financial difficulties and other interventions, such as the Mortgage Rescue Scheme and the introduction of the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol. Additionally, the downward trend seen in recent years mirrors that seen in the proportion of owner-occupiers.
4. Mortgage Possession Action Timeliness
Median timeliness figures are volatile for mortgage orders, warrants and repossessions due to low volumes being processed and the impact of Covid-19 on these low volumes.
Median average time has increased for orders and warrants. As the courts continue to recover, it is unlikely that these timeliness figures are representative of any statistical trend and instead reflect the pause in actions, therefore, caution should be used when interpreting these results.
The median average time from claim to repossession has increased to 110.6 weeks, up from 39.4 weeks in the same period in 2019. However, it should be noted this is based on much fewer cases.
Figure 2: Average timeliness of mortgage possession actions, January to March 2017 to January to March 2022 (Source: Table 3)
Number of weeks taken from initial mortgage claim to…
Claims to order median timeliness has increased to 15.6 weeks, up from 7.1 weeks in the same period in 2019.
Claims to warrant median timeliness has increased to 104.6 weeks, up from 31.6 weeks in the same period in 2019.
Claims to repossession median timeliness has increased to 110.6 weeks, up from 39.4 weeks in the same period in 2019.
The above charts distinguish between the timeliness of possession claims at different stages of a case. Average time taken from claim to warrant or repossession can fluctuate and is affected by various factors. For example, the final two charts take account of the amount of time between the court order being issued and the claimant, such as the mortgage lender, applying for a warrant of possession.
The short-term increases noted over the past few quarters reflect the stay on most possession claims implemented between March and September 2020 for case progression and the stay to evictions (with some exceptions) implemented between March 2020 and June 2021. Those cases that have progressed to repossession therefore include the duration of the stay within their timeliness. This “hold stay period” will form part of many possession actions over the next few quarters.
The long-term increases in the mean average time from claim to warrant and claim to repossession are due to an increasing proportion of historic claims (dating from 2007 to 2013) reaching the warrant and repossession stages respectively in recent quarters. This is possibly due to defendants recently breaking the terms of the mortgage agreements put in place at the start of the process. Although these historical outlying cases inflate the mean average, they have less effect on the median.
5. Overview of Landlord Possession
The number of landlord possession actions for all court stages have increased compared to the same quarter of last year but remains significantly reduced in comparison to the same quarter in 2019.
As a result of coronavirus and associated policy actions, all landlord possession actions have dropped significantly and have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, landlord possession actions; claims (19,033), orders for possession (12,975), warrants (6,817) and repossessions (3,763) have decreased by 37%, 45%, 57% and 55% respectively.
Figure 3: Landlord possession actions (actual and seasonally adjusted) in the county courts of England and Wales, January to March 2017 to January to March 2022 (Source: Table 10b)
In January to March 2022, a similar proportion (34% or 6,520) of all landlord possession claims were social landlord claims compared to private landlord claims (34% or 6,447). 32% (6,066) were accelerated claims, which were at their highest levels since 2018.
This contrasts with previous quarters. For example, in January to March 2019, the majority (63% or 19,194) of all landlord possession claims were social landlord claims, while accelerated claims and private landlord claims made up just 16% and 21% of all landlord claims respectively.
The fall in claim and orders volumes is observed across all geographical regions. A concentration of claims was seen in London, with 4,854 landlord claims at London courts and a concentration of orders was seen in the South East region, with 2,745 landlord orders at South East courts, accounting for 26% and 21% of the respective totals in January to March 2022. Despite this, in London, there was still a decrease of 33% (from 7,239 in January to March 2019) for landlord claims and, in the South East region, a decrease of 39% for landlord orders (from 4,486 in January to March 2019).
The 57% decrease in landlord warrants compared to January to March 2019, was accompanied by large decreases across all regions. The largest regional number (1,604) was again found in London, making up 24% of all landlord warrants. Despite this, there was a decrease of 60% for landlord warrants in London (from 3,979 in January to March 2019 to 1,604 in January to March 2022).
6. Landlord Possession Timeliness[footnote 2]
Median timeliness figures are volatile for landlord orders, warrants and repossessions due to low volumes being processed and the impact of Covid-19 on those low volumes.
Median and mean average time has increased for orders, warrants and repossessions. However due to the low volumes of possession actions this quarter, caution should be used when interpreting these results. It is unlikely that these timeliness figures are representative of any statistical trend and will instead reflect the pause in actions.
The median average time from claim to repossession has increased to 27.3 weeks, up from 20.6 weeks in the same period in 2019.
Figure 4: Mean and median average timeliness of landlord possession actions, January to March 2017 to January to March 2022 (Source: Table 6)
Number of weeks taken from initial landlord claim to…
Claims to order median timeliness has increased to 10.7 weeks, up from 7.0 weeks in the same period in 2019.
Claims to warrant median timeliness has increased to 18.6 weeks, up from 15.7 weeks in the same period in 2019.
Claims to repossessions median timeliness has increased to 27.3 weeks, up from 20.6 weeks in the same period in 2019.
The short-term increases noted over the past few quarters reflect the stay on most possession claims implemented between March and September 2020 for case progression and the ongoing stay to evictions (with some exceptions). Those cases that have progressed to repossession therefore, include the duration of the stay within their timeliness. This “hold stay period” will form part of many possession actions over the next few quarters.
As shown by Figure 4, median figures are generally considerably lower than mean figures, demonstrating that on average, the progression from claim to successive stages can be positively skewed by outlying cases when using a mean measure of average timeliness.
7. Regional Possession Claims
Hartlepool in the North East region had the highest rate of mortgage possession claims at 38 per 100,000 households, followed by Blackpool (North West region) and Luton (East of England region); with 30 and 26 claims per 100,000 respectively. Note that these rates are based on relatively low numbers and so the relativities between areas should be treated with caution.
The majority of the highest landlord possession claim rates were found in London, with 7 of the 10 highest rates occurring in this region. Brent had the highest rate (227 per 100,000 households).
Figure 5: Mortgage possession Claims per 100,000 households, January to March 2022 (Source: map.csv; see supporting guide)
|Local Authority||Rate (per 100,000 households)||Actual number|
6 local authorities had no possession claims during this period. Excluding these, Somerset West and Taunton had the lowest rate of mortgage claims (1.4 per 100,000 households).
Figure 6: Landlord possession Claims per 100,000 households, January to March 2022 (Source: map.csv; see supporting guide)
|Local Authority||Rate (per 100,000 households)||Actual number|
London boroughs accounted for 7 of the 10 local authorities with the highest rate of landlord claims.
One local authority, the Isles of Scilly, had no landlord claims during this period. Excluding this, Ceredigion had the lowest rate of landlord claims (3.3 per 100,000 households).
8. Regional Repossessions (by County Court Bailiffs)
Blackpool had the highest overall rate of mortgage repossessions at 19 per 100,000 households.
Landlord repossessions were highest in Slough with 52 per 100,000 households and were generally concentrated in London (9 out of the 10 highest rates).
Figure 7: Mortgage repossessions per 100,000 households, January to March 2022 (Source: map.csv; see supporting guide)
No repossessions by county court bailiffs were recorded during this period in 117 local authorities.
Figure 8: Landlord repossessions per 100,000 households, January to March 2022 (Source: map.csv; see supporting guide)
|Local Authority||Rate (per 100,000 households)||Actual number|
London local authorities account for 9 of the 10 boroughs with the highest rate of landlord repossessions.
19 local authorities had no landlord repossessions by county court bailiffs in January to March 2022.
9. Further information
The statistics in the latest quarter are provisional and revisions may be made when the next edition of this bulletin is published. If revisions are needed in subsequent quarters, these will be annotated in the tables.
9.1 Accompanying files
As well as this bulletin, the following products are published as part of this release:
A supporting guide providing further information on how the data is collected and processed, including a guide to the csv files, as well as legislation relevant to mortgage possessions and background information.
A set of overview tables, covering key sections of this bulletin.
CSV files of the map data and the possession action volumes by local authority and county court.
A data visualisation tool which provides a detailed view of the Mortgage and Landlord statistics. We welcome feedback on this tool to help improve it in later editions and to ensure it meets user needs.
9.2 National Statistics status
National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.
All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.
It is the Ministry of Justice’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected for National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when the standards are restored. These statistics have been audited and re-accredited as National Statistics. The most recent compliance check completed by the Office of Statistics Regulation can be found here.
9.3 Future publications
Our statisticians regularly review the content of publications. Development of new and improved statistical outputs is usually dependent on reallocating existing resources. As part of our continual review and prioritisation, we welcome user feedback on existing outputs including content, breadth, frequency and methodology. Please send any comments you have on this publication including suggestions for further developments or reductions in content.
Press enquiries should be directed to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities press office:
Other enquiries and feedback on these statistics should be directed to the Data and Evidence as a Service division of the Ministry of Justice:
Rita Kumi-Ampofo - email: CAJS@justice.gov.uk
Next update: 11 August 2022
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Produced by the Ministry of Justice
Alternative formats are available upon request from ESD@justice.gov.uk
Seasonality tables and charts will be removed from the publication next quarter. ↩
The law requires at least 4 and no more than 8 weeks between claim and court hearing. Possession orders stipulate when a tenant must vacate the property - typically within 4 weeks from the date the order was made. Landlords cannot issue a warrant until after this period (if the tenant has failed to comply). ↩