Hundreds of social housing residents in Wales have seen their homes repossessed in the last year, a leading housing charity has revealed.
While mortgage repossessions have fallen in recent years, the number of social housing tenants losing their homes has reached a seven-year high, says Shelter Cymru.
Repossession in the social housing sector have risen 12% over the last year and have now reached the highest level since before the recession.
John Puzey, Director of Shelter Cymru, said: “This year has been particularly tough for social tenants, many of whom have suffered due to changes in welfare benefits and the rising costs of living.
“We have been working with landlords to ensure that they are doing everything they can to help tenants stay afloat – but these figures show that more clearly needs to be done.
“While some landlords are working hard to help tenants make the most of their income, others are failing to put support in place and are rushing to court far too quickly. We are hearing that some have started charging rent in advance from new tenants, forcing families into debt right from the outset of their tenancies.”
According to Shelter Cymru, social housing repossession peaked in January to March 2014, with more than 21 households being left homeless per week. The shocking figure is equivalent to three households being dumped on the streets every day.
Nearly 1,000 social housing tenants lost their homes in the last year, says Shelter Cymru. In total nearly 2,200 households were made homeless by bailiffs in Wales across both the social and private rental tenures.
Over the last year 2,195 households had their homes repossessed. There were 1,002 mortgage repossessions, 958 repossessions from social housing and 235 PRS repossessions.
Many of those left without a place to call home did so without going to court to appeal against their eviction, which means the true extent could be even higher than available figures suggest.
John Puzey added: “Tenants who are evicted from social housing have very few options open to them. Other landlords often won’t take them on if they have arrears so the only choice is the private rented sector where they may be vulnerable to rogue landlords.
“The worst time of year for repossessions is always the first three months of the year. This year, perhaps social landlords should show some forbearance post-Christmas and not rush to court as soon as the holidays are over.”
Shelter Cymru helped nearly 15,000 people at risk of losing their home in the last year, preventing evictions in 89% of cases. Over the same period 140,000 people visited their website seeking support on housing and homelessness related issues.