You’ll find plenty of reports detailing property damage caused by floods, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other disasters. Damages in each category amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Break-ins and vandalism get plenty of attention as well, with some annual property damage estimates ranging in the billions. What you don’t hear a great deal about is damage caused by children playing too close to neighbors’ homes and vehicles. Unfortunately, this is becoming a growing issue across the country. Figuring out what to do about it isn’t a simple matter.
Being Proactive Against Property Damage
Taking preventative measures to protect your property is the best solution if you’re worried that the neighbors’ children might cause damage. You could have home security window film installed to safeguard your windows against rogue baseballs and footballs. This type of film helps reinforce the glass so impacts aren’t as detrimental as they would be otherwise. It’ll also protect your windows from falling limbs and flying debris during storms and help thwart break-ins.
Parking your car near the end of the driveway or along the street and being sure to keep your car alarm set might help as well. If kids get too close, the shrieking and honking of the alarm might encourage them to put a little more distance between themselves and your property. At the very least, it might get their parents’ attention. You could also simply talk to their parents and politely ask them to reign in their little ones. That being said, this approach could also have the opposite effect, as many people become overly defensive when they feel their parenting skills or their children’s behaviors are being criticized.
Taking Action after the Fact
In the event things have already taken a turn for the worse and you’ve sustained property damage at the hands of the neighbors’ children, you have a couple of options. For one, your homeowner’s insurance might cover the damage if you’ve paid your deductible. Some policies cover acts of vandalism, malicious mischief, and civil commotion. Whether accidental damage caused by children falls into these categories depends on your policy and coverage provider. If repairs cost less than your deductible, this might not be the best solution.
Property owners also have the right to ask the children’s parents to cover the cost of repairing the damage. However, some might not willingly comply with your requests. According to the law in most states, though, it’s a parent’s duty to supervise his or her children. This means they’re legally responsible for the actions of their minor children and financially responsible for any damage their little ones cause to other people’s property while they’re not being properly supervised.
Most children don’t mean any harm. They’re just having fun, and the fact that things could go awry never crosses their minds. Not very long ago, simply asking children to move along was all it took to keep them from playing too close to a neighbor’s home. If that didn’t work, speaking to their parents would remedy the situation nicely. That’s not necessarily true these days.
Being proactive in protecting your property is generally the most effective alternative. Still, you can’t plan for every possibility. If damage occurs, you have the right to take action. Demanding that the children’s parents pay for the damage may not garner the results you’re looking for. Many property owners try to avoid taking such matters to court, but it’s usually a last resort if all else fails.