New analysis by Direct Line for Business reveals police forces across England and Wales investigate 283 incidents of criminal damage to properties every day, the equivalent of one every five minutes. Criminal damage includes issues such as vandalism, graffiti and even arson. There were over 51,500 investigations into criminal damage to properties recorded in just the first six months of 2019. These figures are just from those police forces that responded to a Freedom of Information Act request, the total figure is projected to be as high as 359 cases handled a day, or one every four minutes.
In the period from the start of 2017 to the end of the first half of 2019, police forces in England and Wales investigated over a quarter of a million cases of criminal damage to property. Analysis of landlord insurance claims data reveals that vandalism is the cause of a third (32 per cent) of malicious damage claims. It is not just the initial incident that poses an issue, the police highlight that once a property is damaged it is vital to have it repaired as quickly as possible as a vandalised property can attract people who might cause more damage.
The highest number of incidents of malicious damage to property in the first half of 2019 were investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service, with 6,014 cases recorded in London. This was followed by Greater Manchester Police with 5,170 cases investigated and West Yorkshire Police with 4,207. When looking specifically at landlord insurance claims related to malicious damage, the North West came out on top, accounting for one in six of all recorded claims across the whole of the UK over the past five years.
Sarah Larkin, Landlord Product Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “The scale of vandalism, arson and property damage across the country is frightening. Not only are property owners faced with the cost of repairing damage, there is the emotional stress that a home has been attacked. We need the enforcement of tough penalties to discourage people from vandalising properties and ensuring those that commit these crimes feel the full force of the law.”
Analysis of the past five years insurance claims data reveals the number of landlord insurance claims resulting from malicious damage has risen by 37 per cent. The scale of the damage that can be caused to a property is emphasised by the size of the average insurance claim for repairs, which stands at £1,700. Former and current tenants are responsible for causing damage to a property in 31 per cent of incidents.
Larkin continued: “Landlords can reduce the risk of criminals targeting their properties by installing security measures such as CCTV and motion sensor lighting. However, our analysis shows that rogue tenants are also a cause of significant damage to properties. To reduce the risk of renting a property to someone that won’t treat it responsibly, landlords should complete comprehensive checks before signing a contract. These checks would identify irregularities such as if an individual has any County Court Judgements against them, will confirm their current address, search for any aliases used and verify bank account details amongst other checks.”
With a Direct Line for Business Landlord Insurance policy, Malicious Damage cover is a standard part of Buildings and Contents cover, protecting landlords against damage deliberately carried out by people unlawfully on their property. It would cover a landlord if a rental property was broken into by vandals who sprayed graffiti all over the walls, for example. Optional Malicious Damage by Tenants covers landlords if damage is caused intentionally by tenants in their property.