4 Times a Landlord Could Be Liable for a Tenant’s Dog Bite

News 12 February, 2021

Many landlords don’t allow tenants to own pets because they want to avoid someone being injured by an aggressive pet. Under normal circumstances, the tenant who cares for the dog is usually responsible if it bites someone.

However, there are some cases in which the landlord is responsible for the dog bite, too. Keep in mind that different states have different dog bite laws, so you’ll need to know what the regulations are for your area before deciding if you allow pets on your property.

If you’re a landlord, here are four times as dog bite could be your fault.

1. You Were Aware the Dog Was Dangerous  

If you knew that the dog on your property could possibly be a danger to others, you could be liable if the dog bites someone. For instance, if the dog had bitten or attacked someone before and allowed the pet to remain on your property even though you knew about its vicious past, you may be partially at fault for all the other injuries the dog causes.

The animal might attack tenants or people who visit your property, and you could face several lawsuits if the dog is not being taken of.

2. Removing the Animal

You may also be liable as a landlord if you cannot get the animal off your premises. In some states, you won’t be responsible for the dog’s dangerous behavior, even if you knew the dog was a possible safety hazard, but you were not able to remove it from your premises.

If you tried to have the dog removed but weren’t granted legal authority to do so by the courts, you probably wouldn’t be liable if the dog attacks anyone else while on your property. However, it is best to make all current and potential tenants aware of the dog’s presence.

You can include this information in any newsletters you send to your tenants, tape a notice to their doors, or hang “Beware of Dog” signs around your property.

3. Able to Remove the Animal but Failed to Do So

If you know that the animal on your property is dangerous and you choose not to remove it from the premises, you could be responsible if the dog bites or attacks someone. For instance, your tenant can sign an agreement stating that if their dog displayed any dangerous behavior, the tenant has to get rid of the animal or take the animal and move to another residence.

According to the agreement, if the dog bites someone, the tenant should no longer be allowed to live on the property with the pet. If you don’t follow through with the contract and the dog bites someone else, you could be held responsible for the harm done as well.

In that scenario, even though you don’t own the dog, your negligence increased the chances that the dog could harm someone, and most courts will hold you responsible to some degree.

4. You Harbored the Animal

If you are caring for the dog as if it were your pet or having a pet that spends time on your commercial or residential property, you are liable for the pet’s actions. Even if the dog is not yours, if you feed, walk and tend to the dog while the owner is away from home, you are the de-facto owner and could be sued if the dog attacks someone while in your care.

If your dog or a dog on your property has injured someone, it is critical to get in touch with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will look at the specifics of your case and let you know if you are responsible for the attack and by how much.

The sooner you contact a qualified lawyer, the sooner you can get to the bottom of this serious matter and take the necessary steps to ensure your tenants and visitors are kept safe from vicious animals.