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A surge in the number of homeowners facing repossession means debt advisors are struggling to give proper legal guidance, a charity warned.

Transact said some over-run agencies that offer free legal representation were having to turn away homeowners who need assistance but are not entitled to legal aid.

London-based debt advice partnership Capitalise has seen a 90% increase in possession hearings in the first three months of this year.

It represented 146 clients at possession hearings between January and March, compared to only 77 during the same period in 2007.

The situation is similarly bleak in Sheffield, where the number of repossession cases coming to court has doubled in the last six months, according to Sheffield Law Centre.

Anthea Puran, of legal advice centre Law for All in Acton, west London, said homeowners without proper legal advice were more vulnerable to agreeing bad deals with lenders.

She added: "Lenders' agents can be quite bullying, and sometimes their legal representatives approach defendants on the day of the hearing and try to persuade them to agree to a repayment schedule with high monthly repayments they won't be able to afford.

"The court then grants the lender a suspended possession order which means a possession warrant is granted if the defendant is unable to keep up the repayments."

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