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    New data published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) indicates that the number of home repossessions has fallen by 1%, from 9,100 in the first quarter of the year to 9,000 in the second quarter. However, some people in the industry have warned of an “arrears timebomb”, with disaster set to strike when rates rise in 2012.

    Compared with the second quarter of 2010, the latest repossession figure represents a 7% fall. At this stage in 2010, there had been 19,500 repossessions, compared with 18,100 so far this year. The number of mortgages in arrears of 1.5% to 2.5% has increased, however.

    Paul Smee, director general at CML, said that the stabilisation of mortgage repayment problems could be attributed to “stable employment and low interest rates.” He added that he felt there was no need to revise current forecasts in light of the current uncertainty in the global financial markets.

    The Citizens Advice Bureau has reported that it has dealt with over 100,000 cases where people are in mortgage or secured loan arrears, and says that it has prevented 5,000 people from losing their homes in the past year. Gillian Guy, chief executive at the CAB, said: “With the cost of living going up daily and incomes lagging badly behind, mortgage lenders and the government must focus on helping people stay in their homes. Repossession is a terrifying prospect and should always be the last resort.”

    If you do fall behind with your mortgage payments, you should always treat them as the top priority before paying back any other debts. Otherwise, you risk losing your home. Always contact your lender if you are expecting to miss a payment, rather than waiting for them to start threatening you with legal action. They may be willing to reduce your monthly payments in some circumstances.

    Additionally, you should ensure you are receiving any benefits or tax credits to which you are entitled. The Government also operates a Mortgage Rescue scheme, through which you be able to sell your home but continue living there and paying rent. You can get more information on this from your local council.

    If you are struggling to repay unsecured loans, credit cards or overdrafts, we can provide confidential debt advice.

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