“My sister lives in Florida and just replaced her back yard fence. The fence is on her property not the property line (approx 1 ft before the property line). The neighbors child has poked holes in every panel of this brand new 3000.00 fence by beating some sort of sharp implement on it! When my sister brought it to the neighbors attention they shrugged and said “that is what kids do and we don’t have money to fix it for you”. What are her options?”
Many states, including Florida, have parental responsibility statutes that hold parents liable for property damage caused by their children (minors under the age of 18). While this means your sister could potentially hold the parents liable for the damage their children caused to her fence in small claims court, the fact that they don’t have any money may make them “judgement proof,” meaning that even if a court awarded your sister a judgement against the neighbors they would have no property that could be used to satisfy the award. Getting an award is only half the battle, you also have to collect.
As such, your sister should try again to work things out with the neighbors. She can explain to them that damaging her property is a criminal act (most likely vandalism or criminal damage), and it will not be tolerated. And if they cannot get their children under control then she will have to get the police involved. If it comes to that, the police will be able to advise her as to the possibility of filing a report, pursuing criminal charges, or other courses of action to remedy the situation.