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Protecting against criminal damage to property

18 November 2019

As many as 283 incidents of criminal damage to property are reported every day, the equivalent of one every five minutes, according to figures published by Direct Line.

A freedom of information request found there were over 51,500 investigations into criminal damage to properties, including vandalism, graffiti and arson, in the first six months of 2019. That figure is from the police forces that responded, however, the true number is projected to be as high as 359 cases every day, the insurance giant said.

Analysis of landlord insurance claims revealed vandalism accounted for almost a third (32%) of malicious damage claims.

The highest number of incidents of malicious damage to property in the first half of the year occurred in London, with 6,014 cases recorded. This was followed by Greater Manchester, with 5,170 cases and West Yorkshire, where 4,207 cases were filed.

For landlord insurance claims relating to malicious damage, the North West fared the worst, accounting for one in six of all recorded cases across the UK over the past five years.

The data released by Direct Line found that the number of landlord insurance claims as a result of malicious damage soared by 37% over the past five years, with the average insurance claim totalling £1,700. Former and current tenants are responsible for causing damage in nearly one in three (31%) incidents.

Sarah Larkin, landlord product manager, Direct Line, called the figures “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 vandalizing properties and ensuring those that commit these crimes feel the full force of the law.”

She added: “Landlords can reduce the risk of criminals targeting their properties by installing security measures. 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.”

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