There are several reasons that a landlord might not want to make their premises pet-friendly. One of the most obvious is that pets can be highly destructive if they aren’t trained correctly. The other reason is that if a dog bites someone while that person is renting, it might befall the landlord to pay for any damages and injuries that result from the bite. Since they are technically the “property owner” and the dog bite happened on their premises, it might open them up to being vulnerable to paying for someone else’s dog’s actions.
In most instances, if a tenant’s dog bites someone, then the dog owner (or the tenant) is liable for the dog bite if the injury needs medical treatment. Although states differ in how they handle dog-bite laws, in most states if your dog has displayed vicious tendencies in the past, then you would be held liable if your dog bites someone. That is why if you are going to rent to both tenants and their furry friends, advise them to take out renter’s insurance, which will typically cover a dog-bite suit.
When is the landlord liable?
Although each state has different statutes and laws regarding dog bites, there are three conditions that might make the landlord responsible – rather the tenant and dog owner – if the dog bites someone.
The landlord knew that the dog was dangerous
If the landlord was aware that the dog owned by the tenant that they rented to was a danger to others around them, and they still allowed the tenant to have the dog, the person who is bitten might be able to make the case that the landlord had an obligation to prohibit the dog from occupying the premises; if they do, it then becomes a matter of premises liability. When that is the case, it is possible for both the tenant and the landlord to share partial responsibility and liability for the dog bite.
They had the ability to remove the animal
Even if the landlord knew that a dog had the potential to be dangerous, they cannot be held liable for any bites if they didn’t have the ability to remove the animal legally. If the landlord tried to have a dog removed through legal channels and was not able, then they will not be held liable. However, if the landlord legally had the ability to remove a dog that they knew was dangerous and they didn’t take the steps to do so, then that might open them up to litigation and liability.
If they were unable to remove the dog legally and they did not warn people by posting signs, then that might also make them vulnerable to being sued. It might be partially their responsibility and liability if the dog bites someone and that person is injured.
They harbored a dog that they knew was dangerous
If a landlord harbors an animal that they know is dangerous by supplying them food and shelter, then it might come back to bite them – pardon the pun. For instance, if a landlord knows that a dog is dangerous but agrees to take care of the dog while the tenant is at work, then the landlord becomes equally responsible for the dog’s actions if that dog bites someone. Merely helping out by caring for an animal that you suspect might be dangerous can open you up to being sued.
The best way is to hire a dog bite attorney to ensure that you aren’t left paying for someone else’s dog is to either ban tenants from having pets or to have the proper insurance to make sure that you aren’t left vulnerable. As a landlord, you can take out an umbrella insurance coverage plan to add dog bites if you choose to rent to animal owners; this can help make sure that you aren’t ever left paying for someone else’s animal’s actions.