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What is malicious damage in landlord insurance?

It can be a landlord's worst nightmare—your rental property is vandalised by burglars, vandals or even tenants, leaving you with thousands of pounds worth of damage. Will your insurance cover the repairs? It depends on whether or not your landlord insurance covers malicious damage. It also depends on whether or not your policy covers malicious damage by tenants, as this is treated differently than damage by someone not legally allowed on your property like a burglar or vandal.

What does malicious damage mean?

The definition of malicious damage is generally any damage caused to property with malicious intent. With malicious damage, a person has unlawfully and intentionally damaged property—accidents do not count as malicious damage, nor does damage that was not carried out maliciously. Malicious damage may or may not be covered by insurance.

What is malicious damage in landlord insurance?

Malicious damage in landlord insurance may cover all malicious damage, no matter who did it, or a policy may only cover burglary or vandalism damage—not damage by the tenant or another person legally on the premises. When it comes to landlord insurance, there are two types of malicious damage:

  • Malicious damage caused by someone not legally allowed to occupy the premises
  • Malicious damage caused by a tenant

The first type—malicious damage caused by someone not legally allowed to occupy the premises—is commonly covered by landlord building and contents insurance. People not legally allowed to occupy a property can include former tenants who won't to leave after their lease has expired or during an eviction process, squatters, etc.

Malicious damage caused by tenants

Malicious damage caused by a tenant is not often covered by landlord insurance as standard, however some insurers will cover malicious damage caused by those who do have a legal right to occupy the property.

Where not offered as standard, malicious damage by tenants may be available as an optional add-on, which you can add to your policy for an additional premium. However, not all landlord insurance providers offer this feature, even as an add you're willing to pay extra for.

Even when it is available, malicious damage by tenants cover will have conditions that limit the cover. For instance, it might not protect properties that are let to higher-risk tenants such as students.

Landlord insurance malicious damage cover

Malicious damage insurance for landlords covers the cost to repair or replace property intentionally damaged by burglars, vandals or other people not legally allowed to be on a property. It may or may not cover malicious damage by tenants. Coverage varies from provider to provider, so read the terms of a policy carefully to find out. You may need to pay an extra premium to get cover for malicious damage by tenants.

Examples of malicious damage to property

  • Spray painting graffiti on the walls of a property.
  • Setting a fire intentionally.
  • Breaking windows.
  • Placing glue into locks.
  • Ransacking a property.
  • Ripping out kitchen units.
  • Punching holes in doors and walls.
  • Vandalising furniture.
  • Flooding a property by closing a drain and leaving the water running.

There may be deliberate damage caused to a property without malicious intent, that would not be covered under landlord insurance malicious damage cover. For example, cutting down branches to a tree to let more light into a home without the landlord's permission. Or hanging heavy shelves that damage a wall. These might not qualify as 'malicious damage'.

The law

It is a crime to vandalise property. See the Malicious Damage Act 1861, Section 13: Injuries to Buildings by Tenants:

"Whosoever, being possessed of any Dwelling House or other Building, or Part of any Dwelling House or other Building, held for any Term of Years or other less Term, or at Will, or held over after the Termination of any Tenancy, shall unlawfully and maliciously pull down or demolish, or begin to pull down or demolish, the same or any Part thereof, or shall unlawfully and maliciously pull down or sever from the Freehold any Fixture being fixed in or to such Dwelling House or Building, or Part of such Dwelling House or Building, shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor."

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.