Money Moral Dilemma: Should neighbour pay as her son smashed the window

edited 15 September 2010 at 9:15AM in Money Saving Polls
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Former_MSE_PenelopeFormer_MSE_Penelope Former MSE
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edited 15 September 2010 at 9:15AM in Money Saving Polls
This is a real life MMD so please bear in mind the MoneySaver in question will read your responses:
Please give this MoneySaver the benefit of your advice...
Should neighbour pay as her son smashed the window?


A neighbour's young son accidentally smashed our car window whilst playing on the street. The neighbour apologised and then quickly returned home. We were forced to part with £50 (the insurance excess) to arrange repair. We informed our neighbour but she refused to put anything towards the repairs on the grounds that (a) she couldn't afford it and (b) it was an accident. What should I do?
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NB By Martin:

TO THOSE SAYING THIS ISNT A MONEY MORAL DILEMMA THE NEIGHBOUR SHOULD PAY - JUST A NOTE


THE QUESTION IS "WHAT SHOULD I DO?" NOT WHO SHOULD PAY.



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  • How have you previously got on with this neighbour? I suggest writing her a little note stating what happened and saying how much you had to pay (just to remind her and have it in writting)....pop it through her letter box and see what happens.

    She really should offer to pay, even if it is £10 per week. The offer should have been there immediately.
  • The definition of criminal damage in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is as follows:-

    A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

    It sounds like what your neighbour's son did would fall into the reckless category, and I think it should go without saying that your neighbour pays for the damage.

    What you probably haven't considered is that as a result of your having made a claim on your car insurance, albeit being a 'no fault' claim, i.e. not your fault and you know whose fault it was, your insurance premium will rise, possibly for the next three to five years. I would have asked the neighbour to pay in full for the damage and not claimed. However, as you have claimed, you could check with your insurance company how it will affect the premium and ask the neighbour for the difference. Try the polite approach but if it doesn't get you anywhere you should involve the police.

    Children are regularly given on the spot penalty notices which their parents have to fund, this is no different except that you are offering to miss out the police! Your neighbour should grab that with both hands and be grateful that you were so reasonable.
  • I agree with Ratch32 and AndiePandy. A contribution should be forthcoming. Accident or not - it was caused by carelessness on the part of a child who is (arguably) old enough to play in the street. In addition, a child who is old enough to participate in an activity that carries enough force to break a car window.

    If I had a child, and he/she broke a car window, I would offer to pay for it. Insurance would probably cover it but, in some cases, there goes your no-claims bonus!

    I daresay the child did not intend any harm - but I would say that it's bad parenting on the part of the neighbour if she leaves her son with the impression that his actions have no consequences. If the poverty case is so genuine that even the minimal £10 cannot be offered, then perhaps the son might learn his lesson by having to wash the car every Sunday for a month.
  • I do think the neighbour should pay. Even in instalments if they cannot afford it. Accident or not, responsibility should be shown. Thats half the trouble now is no one will take responsibility for their actions and its always someone else's fault.
  • The neighbour should have immediately offered to pay, if she is short of money they she should have asked to pay £10 a week and as RuthnJasper says if money was that short then at least a gesture like weekly car washing or a home made cake would have been nice. I think the neighbours attitude is terrible.
  • Without a doubt the neighbour should pay - even if it's just a couple of pounds per week. Just because insurance can cover it doesn't mean it should!

    I would be mortified if it were my child, and would offer to pay, or if I couldn't pay, try to come to an agreement with my neighbour about how to repay them in kind.

    I really like RuthnJasper's suggestion of making the child wash the car! :D
    When life gives you lemons make lemonade. When life gives you chocolate......eat it! :rotfl:
  • I'm glad this has not happened to me because I would be so angry that I would probably do something that would end me up in prison. :mad:

    Kids should be banned from playing on streets where there is heavy parking. The council should have put up a 'no ball games' sign and then a breach of that could have meant a fine. Anyway, the neighbour definitely should pay, no question about it. Take her to the small claims court.
  • AndiePandy wrote: »
    The definition of criminal damage in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is as follows:-

    A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

    It sounds like what your neighbour's son did would fall into the reckless category, and I think it should go without saying that your neighbour pays for the damage.

    What you probably haven't considered is that as a result of your having made a claim on your car insurance, albeit being a 'no fault' claim, i.e. not your fault and you know whose fault it was, your insurance premium will rise, possibly for the next three to five years. I would have asked the neighbour to pay in full for the damage and not claimed. However, as you have claimed, you could check with your insurance company how it will affect the premium and ask the neighbour for the difference. Try the polite approach but if it doesn't get you anywhere you should involve the police.

    Children are regularly given on the spot penalty notices which their parents have to fund, this is no different except that you are offering to miss out the police! Your neighbour should grab that with both hands and be grateful that you were so reasonable.

    Excellent post.
  • I can't believe she didn't offer to pay in the first place, that's the first thing I would have done as a Mother myself, before any insurance claim was made, as I realise an insurance claim would put the car owner's premium up. And if I couldn't stump up the pennies in the first place, I'd at least offer to put some sort of weekly/monthly payment in place. I'd also teach my child that his actions have consequences by getting him to clean the car every sunday for at least a month. Children need to learn to a) be careful, respectful and mindful of other people's property and b) that if they break something even by accident then they need to do something about it, and straight away. They shouldn't wait until they are asked to do something about it. That's terrible!
  • Sorry - just need to post again, as a few posts appeared in the time it took me to write my last one. Without changing the subject too much, I completely disagree with the comment about the council putting up "no ball games" signs. Houses these days are built with small or no gardens at all, so if there is communal green space then the children should be allowed to do what is natural to them and play on it. If they are young then they should be supervised and if they're old enough to play alone then they should be taught to be careful and respect other people and property. "No ball games" creates nothing but animosity and removes valuable playing space for children, and to top it off they are then given ASBOs or fines for disobeying the rule... the end result of which is gangs of bored angry kids hanging around with nothing to do and nowhere to go. So they end up DELIBERATELY vandalising things. Accidents can happen, with or without "no ball games" signs, but that is when you have to be responsible about it, come clean and offer to make right what you've done wrong, be it the parent or child. A better sign would be similar to the ones they put up outside pubs at closing time. "Please respect your neighbours!"
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