Repossessions of homes have leapt more than 40% since the housing market began to slow last year, raising fears that some lenders are taking precipitate action against homeowners struggling to pay their bills.

Figures from the Financial Services Authority show lenders repossessed 9,152 properties in the first quarter of 2008, compared to 6,471 who lost their homes between January and March last year. The data show a big acceleration in repossessions towards the end of last year.

More than 300,000 home loans were in arrears in the first quarter, an increase of almost 40,000 on the same period the year before.

The number of new cases of loans in arrears stayed constant at about 54,000 each quarter, however, which indicates that borrowers are staying in arrears for longer periods than previously.

Financial Times, The Times