12 Oct 2020

Guest Post by Ross Hansen, independent researcher

“Property damage is a serious and growing problem for landlords across the UK. Although London is (unsurprisingly) at the top of the property damage league tables, many other regions of the UK are not far behind. But this does not mean that landlords should despair – although the figures can appear worrying, there are many strategies they can pursue to lower the risk to their own properties.”

It’s the stuff of nightmares for landlords, but worrying figures show that property damage across the UK is more common than we might think.  According to a study from Direct Line 283 reports of criminal damage are investigated by the police every single day – or one every five minutes. Reflecting the scale of the problem, landlord insurance claims due to malicious damage have also reportedly risen by 37% over the past five years.

The geographical breakdown

It has to be recognised, though, that some areas of the UK see higher rates of property damage than others. According to the figures, London comes out on top – with over 6,000 investigations opened by the Metropolitan Police in the first half of 2019 alone. With a population of 9 million, however, London’s figures might not seem so significant – especially when compared to other areas.

Greater Manchester Police opened nearly as many investigations as London (5,170), even though the area has less than a third of London’s population. West Yorkshire and the West Midlands, with 4,207 and 3,697 investigations respectively, are also not too far behind despite their smaller populations. On the other end of the scale, Essex and Hampshire saw the fewest number of property damage investigations in the first half of 2019 (1,702 and 1,858). 

What can landlords do?

It’s clear, then, that property damage is an increasingly common problem for landlords across the UK. Knowing about the problem is only the first step, however. What can landlords do to protect their property?

Security systems.

This is an obvious step, but it’s still important for landlords to assess their security arrangements. Are they up to the job? Is there any new technology that can be taken advantage of, such as motion-detecting lighting and cameras?

 The property’s appearance.

Properties that appear run-down are a magnet for further vandalism, so it’s important that landlords ensure their properties appear as lived-in and looked after as possible. This could be something as simple as maintaining the front garden, or tidying up any paintwork. To further dissuade vandalism, landlords can also consider keeping a light on at the front of the property, and making sure that security systems are clear and obvious.

Insurance.

When all else fails, a comprehensive insurance policy can save the day. It may seem like a painful amount of money to spend, but you’ll be thankful for the peace of mind it brings you in the long run. Although there’s no specific legal requirement to take out landlord’s insurance, it’s highly likely that any mortgage lenders will make it compulsory before partnering with you.

Property damage from tenants

Although it’s always necessary to guard against property damage from the outside, it’s also true that tenants are responsible for property damage too. This can range from stained carpets and broken appliances to more severe, intentional damage. Whatever the problem is, landlords need to make sure they have the right insurance to cover it – as well as an effective deposit scheme in place. It’s also important to make sure that a thorough referencing system is in place prior to bringing new tenants in. It’s always best to catch the bad apples early, rather than finding out after they’ve already caused damage to your property.

Ross Hansen who is a media consultant as well as researcher can be contacted at hansen.ross.media@gmail.com

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