If my children shot out the windows on an old car and other abandoned property on the land that rent, what are my responsibilities?

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If my children shot out the windows on an old car and other abandoned property on the land that rent, what are my responsibilities?

I rent a house on 22 acres. There is an abandoned mobile home (stripped to tin roof and framing), 2 boats that are completely stripped and filled with trash. These items are old but not vintage and are no where near being usable. There is also car in very bad condition that could be restored. I found one online in better shape for $600. My children shot out the windows on the four items.Is there any limit on my liability? Do I have to pay the owners the money they request or can I locate and make repairs?

Asked on May 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Even though a piece of property may seem like junk to one person, it does not vest a right in another person to damage or destroy the property.  Until your children reach adulthood, you are responsible for any damage they cause to another person's property.  Causing damage to someone else's property is generally filed as "criminal mischief."  In addition to civil liability, your children could face juvenile charges.  If the value of the property damaged it under $1500, they would face a misd probation.  If the damage is over $1500 they would face felony juvenile probation.  Under civil or criminal settings, you would be ordered to pay restitution on behalf of  your child.  The only limit is that the amount ordered has to be reflect actual damages.  The owner doesn't get to ask for "emotional" damages in the criminal setting.  How a victim is made whole depends on the parties.  Many victims want restitution, but others can and do accept repairs as sufficient restitution.  If you think the restitution request is unreasonable, you have the option of contesting the restitution amount through the court systems. 


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