Is A Landlord Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Tenant’s Dog?

dog attack liability

Landlords can be held liable for injuries caused by their tenants' dog IF the landlord had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities and permitted it to remain on the property. Landlords can learn of a dog's vicious propensities by coming to the property and observing the dog; receiving complaints about the dog; hearing about incidents; or involving the dog.

In apartment complexes, landlords are often on site, or they have management personnel on site. Information that is obtained by the management company about a vicious dog on the property can create liability on the part of the landlord if the dog is permitted to remain on the property.

In other situations, landlords go to the property to collect the rent. If they are confronted by a growling, snarling, dog that is ready to attack, they then can be charged with knowledge of the dog's propensities if the dog ultimately injures someone and a lawsuit follows. They may also hear about the dog from their other tenants who are afraid of the dog and want it removed from the property.

Landlords are brought into lawsuits because in most situations, tenants don't carry bodily injury or BI coverage. So when their dog harms someone, they are not insured. Landlords on the other hand, usually insure their property.

A landlord can protect themselves from liability in a number of ways. The first and most obvious way is to have ample insurance coverage. Next is to minimize their exposure by making sure their tenants are not keeping dangerous or vicious dogs on site. Landlords should also insist that their tenants carry a renter's policy that covers more than just contents. The tenants' policy should also provide for personal injury to others, so if their dog does attack someone, they are covered.

This is provided as general information and not advice in a specific case. If you would like to discuss a case with us, contact us at Naftulin-Shick, PC, or call us at 800-560-3388. Or send an email to LindaShick@Naftulin-Shick.com. Consultations are always free.