Temperatures rise when borrowers lose their homes

You can’t blame home owners for getting bolshy - even the ones who removed the staircase as they were repossessed

SIMON WHITE,DIRECTOR, LONDON’S CHARTERED SURVEYORS
SIMON WHITE,DIRECTOR, LONDON’S CHARTERED SURVEYORS

They took everything but the kitchen sink is an expression we often hear, but for one unfortunate lady in Wrexham that is exactly what the burglars did take when her house was ransacked recently.

Amusing though this may be to read about, the normal rules of civilised life seem to be suspended when it comes to property.

I have known people moving house to take not only the carpets and curtains but also the kitchen and bathroom fittings.

In one house every single light bulb had been removed and once, when I had been valuing a repossessed property for about 20 minutes, I thought I was in a ground floor flat until I realised that the previous occupants had taken the stairs with them.

But I can understand people’s mindset when their homes are repossessed and it never surprises me when they turn bloody-minded.

As an industry, for years we have encouraged individuals to overcommit themselves by taking larger and larger loans, then when the world turns against them we take our ball back.

We encourage people to overcommit by taking out larger and larger loans and then we take our ball back

During the last lengthy spate of repossessions in the 1990s I recall there was a campaign to encourage home owners to damage their properties, leaving lenders to clear up the mess.

In my experience, nobody went as far as torching a property but on many occasions I opened the front door to discover green mould and mildew everywhere because the cold water tank in the loft had been turned upside down.

On one occasion every plastic double-glazed window had been attacked with a blow torch. As a result they had melted together and all needed to be replaced.

From a logical point of view these actions were all stupid and resulted in the properties selling for less money which was disadvantageous for the repossessees.

But put yourself in their position for a moment. You work as hard as you can to provide a nice home for your family and then, for reasons beyond your control, the rug is pulled from under your feet.

It’s hardly surprising that some individuals turn bitter.

Behind every repossession there is a tale of personal tragedy, although on one occasion I have to confess that this unhappiness was caused by me.

I turned up to repossess flat B in an originally three-storey mid-terrace house in New Cross, south London, that had been converted into three flats.

I was there on behalf of the lender along with a bailiff, a locksmith and a plumber to drain the central heating.

Unfortunately, none of the apartment doors had letters on them and not unreasonably we all thought that flat B must be the middle one. It couldn’t possibly be otherwise.

No prizes for guessing the rest. Of course, it turned out that flat B was for some unfathomable reason the ground floor apartment. And yes, yours truly will now admit to having repossessed the wrong property.

It could have been worse but fortunately the owner returned prior to the heating being drained and was surprisingly philosophical.
“That’s life,” he said.

If our roles had been reversed there’s no way I would have taken it so calmly.