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Social Housing Speed Read – Landlord possession figures released

In this week's Speed Read we consider the Landlord Possession Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice for the period January to March 2018.

The statistics reveal the amount of properties being repossessed and shed light as to the general picture on repossessions on a local authority level across the Country.

The statistics may be found here.

What’s new?

The statistics show that possession actions brought by landlords (both private and social housing) have decreased when compared to the previous year. This decline continues the continual decreasing trend seen since April-June 2014.

In January-March 2018, 31,840 landlord possession claims were issued and 23,983 orders were made. These figures are down by 10% and 8% respectively, with the fall being attributed to a sharp decrease (30%) in the number of claims issued in London. Of the 31,840 claims that were issued, 20,258 (64%) were by social landlords. Social housing providers are by far the largest proportion of claimants in these matters, a trend that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Possession claims unfortunately remain a fact of life and a cost for social housing providers.


Timelines of landlord possession actions has remained fairly stable across the last 5 years. However, as registered providers are well aware, the median average time taken to reach each stage varies depending on tenure type, with accelerated possession claims and private landlord cases being below the overall average and, social landlord cases taking the longest at each stage, driving up the average.

The median average time taken for a landlord possession claim to reach the order stage was 6.7 weeks. This is broken down into accelerated landlord possession cases which took 5.3 weeks, private landlord cases which took 6.9 weeks and social landlord cases taking the longest at an average 7.3 weeks.

This time is increased when considering the length of time it takes to issue a claim to then obtaining a possession warrant: social landlords again taking the longest time with an average of 26.7 weeks to completion.

What may be more promising to registered providers, is that, in the January to March 2018 period, only 13% of all claims ended in repossession by county court bailiffs. 68% of claims resulted in possession orders being made (both suspended and outright) and 25% of claims progressed to obtaining a warrant for possession.

Claims by area

The highest rates of landlord possession actions are concentrated in London with 8 of the 10 highest rates occurring in London boroughs. The highest rate of possession actions was seen in Greenwich, with Barking and Dagenham and Brent coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

London local authorities account for 6 of the 10 boroughs nationwide with the highest rate of landlord repossessions. Five local authorities across the country have no landlord repossessions by county court bailiffs in the January to March 2018 period, being Isles of Scilly, Eden, Hart, Craven and the City of London.

In summary, these figures reflect a very slight increase of landlord possession claims reaching each possession stage in the January to March 2018 period when compared to the same period in 2017 (although the overall trend is down when considering a 5 year period).  However, a larger proportion of claims are progressing to enforcement action being taken (and inevitably, further costs for social housing providers).

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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