Last night I got a call from a tenant who saw his neighbor's child stomping all over the hood of his truck and has done quite a bit of damage. He had suspected something was going on so the day before had put up a security camera and caught it all on camera. There is a twist though. This is on a mobile home park that I recently purchased. The mobile where the child lives had a back door that was screwed shut because it was in such bad shape. 2 weeks ago I had a new back door installed to the tune of around $400 (it had to be a special order). The tenant has young autistic twin boys, who are very hard to control. As soon as the back door was installed, the boys quickly figured out how to unlock it and started to escape and run off. I was told by another of the tenants that they kept going over to hers. At this point she didn't mind so I didn't pursue it. Not once have I been contacted by the mother of the boys to tell me there is an issue. BUT now they have willfully damaged a pretty expensive pickup truck belonging to another neighbor. He called me last night to let me know what had happened and that he had filed a police report but couldn't get a hold of the mother because she was working.
The mother works all hours and the boys are being looked after by their teenage sister.
My question is: Is any of this my responsibility? I don't feel like I have any responsibility for this tenant's children and that it is wholly her responsibility to control her children and pay for the damage. I did my due diligence by making sure they had a safe exit to use in the case of an emergency. I haven't yet contacted the mother and don't know if I should get involved at this stage or try and stay out of it. Surely it's between the mother and the man who's truck her children damaged.
I would appreciate any advice, opinions, comments. Thank you.
@Alison P. this is not your problem. They need to call the police and their insurance company. You should only be concerned with your rental business.
Thank you all for the advice. I'm glad I didn't contact her. I will send a letter about keeping her children from being a nuisance to the neighbors. (Causing a nuisance is a breach of my lease). But if I get contacted again from the guy with the truck, I'll tell him he has to sort it out with the neighbor.
In general, there is no vicarious liability for a landlord for the actions of his tenant or his tenant's children. However, you may have some responsibility if you fail to evict after a nuisance becomes known. Stay on top of the nuisance process that you have started with your letter. You may be well-advised to give a call to a local landlord association for referral to local counsel for advice specific to your jurisdiction. Wishing you the best!
I wouldn't tell him to sort it out with the neighbor. Advise him this is a police matter and as such you cannot get involved in that aspect. And I also wouldn't share what information or talk you have with the neighbor either. Privacy is everybody's right.