Neighbour's children trespassing and climbing onto our roof

Part of this post is to vent and debrief, but also to gather ideas in how I should approach this situation.

We own a low set property. Our neighbours situated behind us have pretty free access to out property as there is no dividing fence. Their 3 kids (roughly 2, 4, 6 year olds?) are frequently entering our property without permission. We have to keep kindly asking them to leave on a regular basis. The eldest usually makes a few snide comments and leaves, but is soon back in our yard. No damage yet, but they play with our kids equipment and I often have power tools around the area that I sometimes forget to put away. One of the kids is ALWAYS stark naked so it's an unpleasant sight. We've spoken to the parents who seem OK and have apologised, but there is no visible change in these kids behaviours. They are still outside largely unsupervised.

The biggest concern is that while we were out, our other neighbour found the older kids running around on our roof and pulling on the antennae cords. When he asked if they're supposed to be up there the 6 year old apparently said "yes we are". Again no damage done, but I'm very concerned for the safety of these kids. I spoke to the father about the roof incident and he apologized, but then proceeded to talk about his long working hours and how his was had been sick which the kids "took advantage of". A week later, they were out in the back largely unsupervised again.

Now the obvious response is to build a fence. The neighbours promised this >6 months ago and offered to pay for it all, but nothing has been done. I've been telling him that we should pay for half. I've been trying to send him messages about this since, but have been getting very empty replies such as "Hello, thank you for the information" and nothing else. I'm thinking of trying to issue a 'notice to fence' and just get on with getting the fence built. Anything can be done about the trespassing in the meantime? Especially with the risk to their kids, the indecent exposure (naked kid).

Comments

        • +7

          The OP has intervened.

          The children are not their responsibility.

          In answer to your question: No, I'd sleep fine. Not my problem, nor my fault.

          • +4

            @o53djz7qTPY4der:

            The children are not their responsibility.

            A duty of care is a legal duty to take reasonable care not to cause harm to another person that could be reasonably foreseen. It is sometimes called the 'neighbour principle' because it's based on the idea that in order to live in a healthy and functioning community, we all have to take responsibility not to harm those around us.

      • You're just painting a picture of someone who doesn't know arse from elbow.

        When you grow up, you'll realise that you don't have to be liable, responsible or at fault to feel bad about someone else's misfortune especially someone who isn't capable of being responsible for themselves.

        There isn't a lesson for the child to learn if they die or become a cripple.

        • +5

          I am grown up.

          So too are the parents. They're more than capable of learning a lesson.

          A lack of sympathy does not translate to ignorance. Perhaps, in future, instead of insulting someone who has a different outlook, you could accept that others are allowed to form their own opinions.

          You're welcome to tell me you think I'm wrong, but you just look pathetic using insults such as:

          You're just painting a picture of someone who doesn't know arse from elbow

          And

          When you grow up

          • -5

            @o53djz7qTPY4der: Ok, so you are grown up, uncaring and dismissive of the welfare of children. That doesn't sound better though, does it?

          • -3

            @o53djz7qTPY4der: Wow so seriously injury or death of a child will make those parents 'learn their lesson'.

            Listen to yourself.

      • +3

        I can't believe (ok I can, but contradicts the suck up and be responsible theme from the "traffic threads") the "WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN" replies you are getting.

        Sounds like OP has given plenty of warnings and time to the actual responsible people the parents, and they are coming off as the sort where the only thing that will get them to act is when one is their kids has an accident - hopefully a non-permanent one ofcourse.

    • +4

      It won't be your fault

      Grey area and that would be for the court to decide.

      • +4

        I was referring to mandatory reporting. A neighbour isn't included in the list of professions required to report child abuse/neglect.

        • No, they are not but OP may still have a duty of care towards those kids when they are on his property.

          • +6

            @DisabledUser102420: He would have duty of care to ensure his dwelling meets the prescribed building standards, and basic duty of care to ensure there isn't any immediate danger people on his property.

            OP hasn't indicated any breach of the above. Having his tools lying around doesn't constitute a breach as it is reasonable a home owner may have tools and this is the privacy of his own home. The children were not invited guests.

            • -2

              @tshow: A duty of care is breached when:

              • a person is injured because of the action (or inaction) of another person; and

              • it was reasonably foreseeable that such action (or inaction) would result in a risk of injury to the injured person; and

              • the action (or inaction) causing the injury was unreasonable. This means that a reasonable person in the same position would not have acted in that way; and
                the risk of injury occurring was not an insignificant risk.

              • +5

                @DisabledUser102420: Op is not employing the children.

                • @whooah1979: Please go and have a good long read of the book "Torts: The Laws of Australia".

                  • +3

                    @ankor: The fact that I've been requesting on numerous occasions to expedite the fence should hopefully show that I'm considering my duty of care to these kids. If they get injured, I'd think it's because of the parents' inaction, not my own. Having said that, if any child fell off my roof and died on my property, it would still break my heart and traumatise me for years to come. As annoying as the kids are, Id feel sorry for them for not being raised better.

                    • @uedamasaki: Of course. You are only human. Nobody wants to see kids getting hurt over, especially when it's something easily preventable.

            • @tshow: You can't possibly be this ignorant, can you? Yes, leaving tools around unattended when you know there are children about is VERY likely to get you sued and or fined.

              Surely you've heard stories of would be burglars getting injured or being attacked by a dog and suing.

              And it gets very VERY tricky when the victim is a child and you were clearly aware that child was likely to be in the yard. What are you going to tell the judge? "Your honour those kids weren't my problem and I don't care about them!"???

              Getting child services involved is unfortunately the right thing to do here. It may not end well for the children regardless of how it plays out. And you can't hold animosity towards a 6 year old. They have no clue what they're doing. The parents may have a genuine issue or may just be bad parents. Either way they're failing.

              Man I see some ridiculous stuff on this board!

              • @syousef: You're obviously oblivious.

                You're not responsible for someone else's negligence. There isn't a case for negligence for leaving tools in your own backyard.

                There isn't a case for negligence for a guard dog guarding the house.

                There is a case for negligence if a dog attacks a passerby or someone with access to the property. Not a burglar unless the dog continues to be allowed to attack a burglar after he/she has been subdued.

                OP is not leaving the tools out of malice. There is no intention of harm, there is no failure to meet any safety code.

                Not sure why you've got knotty knickers but get a hold of yourself.

                • -1

                  @tshow: If you leave the tools out where children can get to them. You are being negligent.

                  Just like if you don't fence your pool and a kid drowns you're possibly looking a jail time.

                  OP is not leaving the tools out of malice. There is no intention of harm,

                  Negligence doesn't have anything to do with intending to do harm. I'm certainly not a legal expert but this is the kind of crap we tackled in Yr 11 Legal Studies.

                  Not sure why you've got knotty knickers but get a hold of yourself.

                  Because your ignorance combined with your arrogance is breathtaking. Seriously. There could be a picture of you under the entry for Dunning-Kruger in an encyclopedia.

                  • +1

                    @syousef:

                    There could be a picture of you under the entry for Dunning-Kruger in an encyclopedia.

                    Perhaps.

                    You do realise that the concept is bilateral… I'll just sit here and enjoy the grand irony.

              • +1

                @syousef: Did you read this comment from someone who used to teach and is now a stay-at-home Dad.

                This was the exact moment I lost faith in humanity.

                • +1

                  @DisabledUser102420: Don't blame the whole of humanity for the ramblings of someone who is either a fool or a troll. Human beings are capable of incredible things. We're also capable of being completely abhorrent.

                • +1

                  @DisabledUser102420: Yeh, that one is messed up. :(

              • @syousef: Yeah, I've been trying to put all my tools out more diligently.

                I've never been able to wrap my head around how someone can be successfully sued by a burglar if they get attacked by a guard dog though. This isn't someone delivering your mail and slipping on a wet surface. This is someone committing a crime and suffering the consequences.

                • @uedamasaki: The theory is a human life, even one of scum, has to be protected over ownership of things. I agree with that in principle but am uneasy about how it has been applied here. I don't think you should have to make your house safe for those who would come in and rob and possibly otherwise harm you.

                • +1

                  @uedamasaki: https://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2015/06/can-a-burglar-sue-...

                  This article pretty much gives you your answer. But if you're too lazy to read the article, heres a quick info on what you're looking for:

                  The kids are known as a "Known trespasser - Homeowners can't possibly anticipate a random burglar coming into their home. However, if there are signs of a frequent trespasser, the homeowner does have a duty to warn about known dangers on the property." The fact that you have raised your concerns with your neighbour multiple times shows you have done your duty to warn. Maybe also send them a message or record your conversation if the worse happens?

                  And no, Homeowners generally have no duty to protect trespassers from dangers.

  • +2

    MS paint please?

    • Hahaha, excellent idea!

    • Maybe an MS Paint drawing of a kid falling off the roof and dying is something the kids or parents will understand ..

  • +6

    OP

    Just put up the fence. Your neighbour is paying you lip service and will never give you the money and appears to be uninterested in being a parent.

    Then you need to have a really serious chat to the neighbour about the consequences of the kids not being supervised properly in the eyes of the law. I'm thinking that an informal chat with Family Services about how to approach it it.

    Also, the naked child in your yard could be twisted 180 degrees so be really careful on that one. Make sure there is always a 3rd party on hand when dealing with that child.

    • +3

      dividing fences act means your neighbor has to contribute - and it is relatively easy for you to recover the money with costs in court (its really common)

  • You could just buy anti climb paint ?

    https://www.coating.com.au/anti-climb-paint/

    • And have them finger paint your entire house?

      • Probably with their faeces.

  • -2

    Agree with reporting the kids to a child services agency. At 2, 4 and 6 they shouldn t be left unsupervised! They are lucky enough that you are not some kind of pervert. Next time the kids come over to your house , just get the 3 of them in your car off to the nearest police station! It would be a good lesson for the parents! Let them look for their kids and start to be afraid about what can happen when the kids are left on their own!
    Kids can display some kind of behaviour as a cry for help. Coming over to your house and being told to leave again is again might be their way to get attention from an adult! So, please next time they come over just take them to the nearest station andtold the police that the kids have been left on their own wandered by themselves. And hopefully something will be done .
    I wouldn't take any picture or bring them inside the house as you could be treat as a paedophile.

    • -1

      unfortunately the father knows that I know they're his kids and knows that I have his contact info. So if I abduct them, I'd probably be in for trouble

    • +3

      I wouldn't take any picture or bring them inside the house as you could be treat as a paedophile

      Next time the kids come over to your house , just get the 3 of them in your car off to the nearest police station!

      But you would grab 3 kicking and screaming kids that are not yours and take them for a drive in your car🤔

      • I'd just be calling the police and telling them there are 3 lost children in your yard

  • +1

    I wouldn't take any picture or bring them inside the house as you could be treat as a paedophile.

    So shoving them in the car won't do that ?

    • +4

      No, as you will drive them off to the nearest station. Oone of our neighbours did exactely that after seeing a 8 years old again and again in his garden shed. He got enough of talking with the mum who always said she wasn t responsible for where her son is. And we would often see him in our front porch, someone backyard and even one of the neighbour garage. Enough was enough. One of the guy couldn 't bother more as he just got a dog and thought it might be dangerous if the kid come over again. He basically ask the kid if he wants to go for a drive and the kid agree. He went straight to the police station. Lost 2 hrs of his time explaining why but it was worth. Later, statement was taken from all of us and the kid was placed somewhere else. The mom was upset and threat all of us but she was warned over and over again and after a year everyone got enough. Some parents won t react until something is done.

      • +5

        I've always thought handling someone else's child is a big nono. I would have called the police to deal with this. I wish my other neighbour called the police when he saw them on the roof

      • +8

        Some parents won t react until something is done.

        And that's why there is child protection officers. Just call them and let them deal with it.

        Your neighbour's lucky he didn't get charged with child abduction.

        • my other neighbour didn't touch or abduct the children. He just watched in horror as they played on my roof and was telling them to get off. they eventually did and ran back into their home

        • *there are

      • Doubt that you could do the same with 3 younger kids (they don't listen to adults in the best of time)

  • +5

    Geez mate, everyone is talking about reporting the kids for being unsupervised…
    Mate we used to be left unsupervised in our backyard as kids all the time.
    As long as we are around the house it was fine.

    You need a physical fence to stop them from getting into your yard.

    If that doesn't work and they continue to be left unsupervised I'd escalate from there.

    Parents also need to discipline.

    • +4

      I think the big issue was that they were on my roof. I don't think the 2 year old was, but the 4 year old was with the 6 year old. They were pulling on the antennae cords which are very close to the power cords as well.

      If they were reasonable kids, leaving them unsupervised may be OK, but I think they've proven that they aren't safe to be left unsupervised.

      • +1

        DW, one zap= 2 gone. 1 more to go.

    • Times have changed.

      There were about 5.7 million children in Australia in 2016. It's difficult to know for sure how many children are sexually abused, but best estimates put it at roughly 8 per cent of boys and 20 per cent of girls. Put all those numbers together, and you could fill the MCG eight times over with children living in Australia right now who have been or will be sexually abused. Of those instances of abuse, 90 to 95 per cent will be committed by men. (Gilmore, 2017).

      Child sexual assault: facts and stats

      • +3

        +1 for actually linking to some legitimate supporting documentation.

        That being said: if you actually read these kinds of reports and studies they're a nightmare of misleading statistics and conclusions. I'm not about to say they're without value but I do think it is important to take them with a massive grain of salt. Media friendly histrionic call outs like the one the report leads with are a huge problem.

        I personally wish people in general, and subject matter experts in particular, would get more comfortable with saying "I/We don't know" in preference to stating conclusions that cannot be categorically supported by data. Uncertainty isn't a flaw, it's a feature.

        As for times having changed, that's true, but not in the way you think. This has always happened, and probably at greater incidence than at present (at least if the trend towards diminishing crime holds true, and I've no reason to believe otherwise). The only difference today is that we are so much more connected when it comes to finding out bad news. Social structures have changed too. In OP's case, there would have been intense social pressure on the parents of the ferals in the past, probably a woman at home, and at the very least the man would have come home from work and given the kids the belt. Today we get "meh" from the parents and nobody does anything (including beating the tar out of the kids, which OP would have had every social right to do in the past in this circumstance).

        I live next door to people that have screamed at their kids from the day they were born, and I'm pretty sure one of the kids pushed another out of a second story window (it made the news). Nobody so much as knocked on my door after that, let alone asked me for my statement. I've called the cops on them on multiple occasions and the cops have never turned up once. I live in a fairly affluent and low crime area too, if the cops have more important things to do than see if kids are okay then I don't know what that could be. If nobody cares then it doesn't matter if I care, there's nothing I can do about it.

        • Don't give up on those kids. From the sound of it, they have no one else.

          Next time you're concerned about their safety, call the child protection helpline on 132111. A child protection caseworker will assess what action needs to be taken. Link

          • @DisabledUser102420: They grew up, and now they're too big to easily go after. If there's DV going on then they've all learned to be a lot quieter about it (they live in a double brick house. If you can hear the screaming through all that then you know that someone's putting their back into it). This is an old problem. By the time any grandkids might show up I'll be long gone from here.

            I appreciate the link anyway.

    • +2

      When I was a kid, I was left largely unsupervised too but don't neglect to add context.

      I lived in an area where there was one car every few households, the cars that travel the road around my home travelled at crawling speeds to allow livestock to move away.

      Everyone in the neighourhood knows the movements of everyone else.

      Stray hypodermic needles, broke glass and other man-made hazards were practically unheard of.

      Also, I never made it onto someone else's property uninvited much less end up on their roof.

  • +4

    Worried about their safety?

    Sod that, grease the roof and let the little Semen Demons break their leg or their arm (calm yer tits folks, no need to get antsy, I only wished a broken limb on these little crotch dumplings, not a broken neck or spine), they'll learn a lesson at least.

    • I think a fence will be less hassle and will achieve more

    • Inb4 the kids' parents try to pull a lawsuit and blame OP if that were to happen

  • Kids respond pretty well to natural consequences of their actions, find some and you will probably find they will comply. I would start with something like. "if you ask you can play on the equipment but only if we are home. if you do not do this we will remove the equipment"

    There may be some others you can think of.

    Another is just to send them a note saying you need an antenna repair to the parents $150 call out and see how that goes. When they front tell them not to worry you "fixed it" yourself by getting another connector they damaged.

    • I don't want to make things up, because the antenna is fine.

      I think the kids do not understand reason or authority. Infact I wouldn't be suprise if the 6year old grows up with some form of oppositional defiant disorder.

      • +1

        For those playing at home, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a behavioural disorder characterised by an ongoing pattern of defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviour beginning in childhood or adolescence. It is part of a group of disruptive behaviour disorders that also includes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Conduct Disorder. Of these three, ODD is seen as the most gentle.

        ODD has been linked to socio-economic factors such as poverty or violence in the local community as well as an aggressive family environment, lack of parental supervision, lack of encouragement, inconsistent discipline and outright child abuse.

  • +1

    If fencing will allow you to secure your property then I agree that you need to take the initiative and arrange quotes, etc to get it built, post haste!

    The trespassing kids are definitely a concern, especially if they should injure themselves whilst on your property, as others have commented above. Are you able to check with your insurer as to what responsibilities, if any, you have under your policy, under the circumstances? Just to give you some peace of mind.

    Good luck, OP!

    • interesting idea. Does home insurance often cover this sort of thing??

      • Yes, home insurance may include public liability cover depending on your policy.

        • just checked, I'm covered for $20 mill. thanks!

  • +2

    This is tough. There is prevention (fence), appeals to authority (child services) and self preservation (making the roof difficult or unsafe to climb).

    At this stage I would worry about any long term bad blood that child reporting would cause. Instead I would inform the parents that:

    1. Your electrician had to reconfigure your antenna at a cost of $120. Next time you expect them to pay

    2. You are trying to eliminate rats from your roof by setting ratsack traps across the roof for the next 3 months. The guy at Bunnings said these are quite poisonous.

    Good luck

    • So your advice is to lie?

      • +1

        When things can potentially get sticky, Id prefer not to make things up.

  • +3

    Put up a fence. Buy a large doberman.

    • +3

      It's 2019 mate. Doberperson.

      • Oh my thank you for this, I can't believe I assumed xers gender, I mean, it's 2019.

  • +3

    Report them to the police for trespassing and vandalism (messing with your antennae). Maybe a police door knock will scare the father enough to get that fence moving along.

  • +5

    Bikies.

  • +1

    buy parentsoftheyear.com.au and stream video surveillance of your yard with your address. parents will fix the situation soon

  • +4

    Step 1 - Build the damn fence.
    Step 2 - Plant hedging along the fence - buy something aesthetically nice, but super fast growing. Lilly Pilly is a good native option. I'm a rose guy, so I would personally go with a nice climbing rose for the bonus extra thorny effect.
    Step 3 - Buy a couple of cheap, outdoor wifi cameras and point them at the fence.

  • +2

    I'd build the fence and just accept that you'll be paying for it yourself. Let the neighbor know that he can pay you back for their 50% at $25 a week or something. Doesn't really matter what rate you set because you'll likely get nothing from him anyway.

    It sucks to have to shoulder that cost, but this could literally be an issue for you for the next 10+ years otherwise. It's worth spending the money to not have to deal with that.

    • Not actually correct - dividing fences act - various states - you legally share the cost of the fence - exact split can depend on the definition of sufficient fence - In Victoria its 50-50

  • +2

    If your that worried or can’t deal with father just put the fence up and pay yourself, your paying you choose what colour/fence. Not that hard but then this is tight arse ozbargain. When I built our house the rear/side neighbours were vacant blocks, I put up 7ft fence in the colour I wanted, didn’t even consult them or ask for money.
    Best thing I did we have full privacy around our pool area.

    • that's what I was thinking of doing at some stage. In fact his other neighbour did that which kind of annoyed him. However reading into the Queensland legislation, it looks like if you went through the proper channels (QCAT) they can order the other house to pay 50%. If you build before getting the QCAT order, you'd be paying yourself

      • The fact that he's not doing anything about the fence strongly suggests that you need to do the same. These parents are (profanity) terrible mate.

  • +1

    Thanks all.
    it's just frustrating when he drags his feet for 6 months, and then doesn't reply with much detail after I mention expediting the fence after the roof incident. I got a quote and suggestions and all re replies is with "Thank you for the information".

    I've sent the neighbor a message earlier today to reply back regarding a time to sit down and talk about it. If he doesn't reply, I'll give him a call/knock on his door. If still no luck by the end of the weekend, I'll serve him with a notice to fence.

    If he doesn't reply to the notice to fence within 1 month, I can apply to QCAT for an order to build the fence

    It just boggles my mind how he doesn't have the courtesy to reply with a simple message confirming that he's still intends to built a fence. I'm offering to pay half. I'm wondering if he even intended to build a fence in the first place. But luckily with the QLD legislation, there's no way he can get out of building a fence.

    • Most likely not. He just wanted to fob you off.

    • +1

      Why do you keep trying to do things nicely with him? He doesn’t give a shit about your property or about what his kids do on it, he doesn’t give a shit about putting up a fence, and he doesn’t give a shit about your thoughts and feelings on anything. Stop sending him messages and trying the softly softly approach. Build the fence yourself, send him a bill for half even though he won’t pay it, and if he says anything about the style of fence tell him you’re sick of his bullshit and his scumbag kids and you’ll be looking out for yourself from now on, and just get on with life.

      The guy is a useless flog, his wife is a useless flog, and his kids without question are well on their way to being useless flogs. It’s a war you won’t win so you’ve got an opportunity to build a nice fence your own way and then the cops get called anytime one of the kids steps foot in your yard.

  • +6

    Why the f$#$ do people with "long working hours" or whatever other rubbish excuse have 3 children?! It's not like they didn't know what they were doing. These unattended kids eventually end up running around naked up the neighbours roof. Feral parents cause feral kids.

    Surely they'd have known looking after kids was difficult after the first two, if not after the very first kid? But boom, here we go again, achievement unlocked, third offspring. I feel sorry for those children, but those parents are worse than animals.

    • you've said what I've been afraid to say very eloquently. I couldn't believe the father tried to justify their behavior by how hard he worked. If my kids did something like that they wouldn't be allowed out in the yard without direct supervision until a fence was up.

      • Yeah, I don't feel good saying that, but it's true. The long working hours didn't prevent them from having 3 children, but they're working very hard when it's time to look after them.

      • +4

        This is of course conjecture, but anecdotally a sad reality I've observed is that many fathers choose to work long hours because it's easier than fathering… get home after the kids go to bed, leave early before they bother you too much. Unacknowledged mental health issues often too. The fact that this father (and mother…?) doesn't discipline his children when he's not working (on the weekend, etc.) means he's entirely checked out, and short of a major life-event there's no coming back from that kind of passivity.

        As a Dad who's trying to remain as engaged with my kid as I can, I really hope life doesn't get the better of me and I start checking out like this guy…

    • Why would they think looking after 2 kids was hard if all they did was letting them run wild? Hardly any parenting/ looking after was required.

  • Our neighbours situated behind us have pretty free access to out property as there is no dividing fence.

    What happened to the fence?

    • There never was a fence! Just a dividing retaining wall

  • +4

    Serve him a fencing notice.

    Tell him if he's children come onto property again you will have to call police and that you don't want to really have to do that.

    Never speak to them again.

    3 strikes and your out.

    Parents need to parent. They are not.

    Take action, before something happens on your property. Photograph them trespassing.

    Good luck.

  • +7

    The fence sounds like a good start.

    If you’re worried about the safety of the children - there’s a vast difference between playing in the backyard without direct supervision and frolicking on your neighbour’s roof - and don’t want to get CPS involved, the simple solution could be to get a buddy to stroll by when you’re not home and make a call to the cops as a “concerned bystander”. The cops will have a friendly chat with the family and it goes on the record.

    Ultimately, while you are trying to do the right thing by them, the family has a legal duty of care towards their own offspring.

  • build a wall and if doesn't work, shoot them in the leg. D.Trump

  • How does this kid even get on your roof?

    • Our house is pretty low and on a bottom of a slope there's a retaining wall that goes quite close to the roof

  • +1

    When you put the fence up, Because let's be honest. They won't.

    Make sure the horizontal wooden bits you can climb are on your side.

    They get the pailings so they can't climb over to your side and make sure it's a 6 ft or taller

    • The palings side looks better. Let the neighbours get unsightly side for being lazy.

      • They'll just climb over it into his property, that's why I suggested it haha. But you're correct. Looks better with pailings

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