A property is damaged every five minutes in the UK

  • Homes under attack - police forces across England and Wales investigate 283 reports of criminal damage, including vandalism and arson, to properties every day
  • Analysis of landlord insurance claims data reveals vandalism is the cause of a third of all malicious damage claims
  • Over the past five years the number of landlord insurance claims resulting from malicious damage has risen by 37 per cent

New analysis1 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 data2 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 highlight3 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.

Table one: Investigations into malicious damage against a property 2019 

Police force Investigations into malicious damage against a property in 2019 
Metropolitan Police Service 6,014
Greater Manchester Police 5,170
West Yorkshire Police 4,207
West Midlands Police 3,697
Cleveland Police 3,686
Lancashire Constabulary 3,024
Staffordshire Police 2,677
Merseyside Police 2,519
Hampshire Constabulary 1,858
Essex Police 1,702

Source:  Direct Line for Business, 2019

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. 

For further information on Malicious Damage cover please visit:  https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/landlord-insurance/malicious-damage-by-tenants-cover


Notes to Editors

1 Freedom of Information Act (2000) request made by Direct Line for Business to the 43 police forces in England and Wales in July 2019 regarding "Malicious Damage Act 1861" in a property. Of this number, 67 per cent) provided usable data.

2 Direct Line for Business analysis of landlord insurance claims data relating to criminal damage made between 2015 and 2019.

3 https://www.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/criminal-damage-arson/


For further information please contact:

Direct Line for Business

Unni Henry

Tel: 01903 636 149

Email: [email protected]


Direct Line for Business

Launched in 2007 Direct Line for Business provides a range of insurance products for the small business sector direct by phone or on-line.

Direct Line for Business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line for Business and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line for Business products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk