Mortgage repossessions during the final quarter of 2019 increased by 11% year-on-year, continuing the initial increase seen from October to December 2018, according to the Ministry of Justice.
This follows a three-and-a-half-year period of stability (since Jan-Mar 2015).
Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker, Coreco, said: “While the numbers are low by historical standards, on this evidence lenders are increasingly playing hardball with borrowers who are struggling.
“For mortgage orders to be up a quarter compared to the last three months of 2018 shows lenders are becoming increasingly assertive in dealing with arrears and defaults.
“There can be many reasons why lenders turn up the pressure on borrowers but fears of destabilisation and economic decline if trade negotiations with the EU proceed negatively could have played a role.
“Equally, perceived benign conditions in the property market could be causing lenders to spring clean their loan books in order to improve their overall quality.
“The hope is that the extremely low level of interest rates will temper any further rises.”
Meanwhile, new figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that the number of second charge mortgage repossessions in Q4 2019 was 25, 10.7% lower than in Q4 2018.
The annual total of repossessions in this market fell to a record low of 98 in 2019.
The rate of second charge mortgage repossessions (as a percentage of outstanding agreements) was 0.06% in the 12 months to December 2019.
Fiona Hoyle, head of consumer and mortgage finance at the FLA, said: “Second charge mortgage providers are committed to helping consumers in financial difficulty, which is borne out by the low number of repossessions last year.
“Any customer worried about meeting payments should speak to their lender as soon as possible to find a solution.”