MORE than 1,000 Bournemouth and Poole homes have been repossessed by mortgage lenders in the past 10 years.

In total, 711 homes in Bournemouth and 375 homes in Poole were repossessed between the start of 2008 and March this year.

However, the rate has slowed markedly in recent years, with only around 10 repossessions in either town in the past twelve months.

At the peak of the financial crisis, 256 homes were repossessed across the conurbation in 2008 alone.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice also reveal that renters have been hit hard over the course of the decade.

There were 1,550 evictions from private and social rented properties in Bournemouth, and 684 in Poole, mostly for unpaid rent.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UKFinance, which represents lenders, said the situation had improved for homeowners in recent years.

She said: "The number of mortgages in arrears is at its lowest level since records began, while possessions remain at a historic low.

"This has been helped by low interest rates and lenders supporting borrowers through periods of temporary financial difficulty wherever possible.

"As ever, customers should not hesitate to contact their lender if they anticipate any payment problems and want to discuss what options are available. Repossession is always a last resort."

Lenders who repossess homes must have a court order to do so, while landlords seeking to evict tenants can either go through the courts or apply for accelerated possession – a quicker process, but one in which landlords sacrifice money owed to them.

In the first three months of 2018, there were 23 claims by mortgage lenders to repossess homes in Bournemouth, a rate of 25 in every 100,000 households.

There have been nine claims in Poole, or 13 in every 100,000 households.

Eviction threatened 193 renters across both towns, with claims for possession from landlords or housing associations at a rate of around 120 in every 100,000 households.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: "Every day at Shelter we hear from people who suffer in silence while they struggle to keep up with housing payments, and come to us in desperation when the court papers finally land on their doormat.

"It's natural to feel helpless in the face of mounting bills, but getting expert advice as soon as you start having trouble with housing costs can make the difference between a family losing their home and keeping it."

Across England and Wales, more than 180,000 homes have been repossessed by mortgage lenders since the start of 2008 – nearly 36,000 in that year alone. Between last April and this March, the figure was 4,400.

Evictions from rental properties peaked in 2015, when 43,000 homes were repossessed by landlords. In the past 12 months, 35,000 evictions have been ordered.