Opening the data on closed door evictions

How many people have lost their homes because of Covid-19? How many have lost jobs and fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments? How many were parents with young children, or had been struggling to access benefits?

There was no way to know. There was very little official data and reporting from possession courts, the hearings where judges decide on housing cases. That was, until Bureau Local sent more than 20 reporters out across England and Wales to log the details of hearings in 30 different courts.

We reported on our findings here and the local reporters produced more than 40 national and local, in-depth stories.

But this is data that deserves to be public, so we are opening up the details of more than 650 hearings collected over two months to provide a snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on people’s housing. We hope this information proves useful and may even serve as a blueprint for official data collection moving forward.

Alongside the in-person reporting, Bureau Local has also been pulling in cases from ten of the busiest courts by scraping the details from daily listings. This data has been updated since our initial story and we now have six months of data.

Our updated analysis shows that, of 3,781 court hearings:

  • 14% (541) were brought by mortgage lenders

  • 12% (471) were brought by local authorities (in some areas, like Nottingham this was as high as 22%)

  • 23% (866) were brought by social housing associations

  • 50% (1,903) were brought by private landlords

Of the cases brought by mortgage lenders, 28% (148) were by Bank of Scotland and 25% (134) were by Santander. Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Bank of Scotland, had previously told the Bureau that it would expect to have a higher proportion of cases because it is the UK’s biggest lender. The group and Santander both said that repossession was a last resort.

Read more on how we did the project here.

This project is funded by the Legal Education Foundation. None of our funders have any influence over the Bureau’s editorial decisions or output.

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