Tenants, Dogs, and Insurance company - what can I do?

11 Replies

I bought a property with tenants in place on month to month lease as lease had long expired. One tenant has 2 dogs I never saw when I toured the place and there is no pet addendum on the old leases that I was given. My insurance company made an unannounced visit where they saw the dogs over the fence and took photos. I received notice that these dogs are on their list of unacceptable breeds and my policy will be canceled unless one of two things happens. 1. The dogs are surrendered to the SPCA with surrender documents returned to the insurance company or 2. The tenant moves out. Insurance provider gave no other option.

I informed my tenant by text message yesterday and have yet to hear anything back in response. 

Just wondering if anyone has had a similar situation happen and what the outcome was. Property is in California.

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@Maria D'Aura I actually own a large property management company and many rentals myself plus having dealt with this for over 20 years. Almost NO insurance companies accept vicious breeds, and will not accept liability if anything happened with those tenants dogs harming someone. Feel free to call around, I’m not sure you will find one, or may be more expensive. Maybe the people that answered above could give you the name of their insurance company that accepts vicious breeds. 
My suggestion would be the same as the insurance company. They have unauthorized pets, unless the pull the old trick of these pets are “emotional support” or “service animals”, the. that’s a whole other issue, especially since you are in California 

Call and ask about different insurance companies.  Assuming the tenants also have insurance, ask them who they use as their policy (assuming they mentioned the dogs) will have that covered.  You could also try calling the SPCA and find out if they know any insurance companies-a long shot.

Everyone seems to be advising you to adjust to suit the tenant's desires. I disagree. I would give the tenants notice that there is no written agreement authorizing the animals, that your insurance company will not cover you as long as the dogs remain on the property, and you therefore want the tenants to remove the animals within 72 hours or you will terminate their lease and require them to leave.

I would not try talking, texting, or emailing them. I would send notice via certified mail so it's well documented and professional. If they push back, I would hire an attorney immediately so the renters know you mean business. It's California and this can go south really fast if you don't know what you're doing and make a little mistake.

I switched to Allstate a couple years ago and about a year ago asked for a reminder of the dangerous breed list and was informed they got rid of it.  They will not cover any animal who is aggressive but as long as you have no reason to believe it is they may be an option for you, and they were by far the cheapest when I shopped around.  I double checked with her recently and she told me that while I could she advised against it unless I was getting a large premium.  Their rental insurance also covers them so if I did allow it, I was going to stipulate that they had to go through her so I could keep track of it, but it was something I was still trying to avoid unless the tenant was otherwise perfect and I couldn't find anyone else.  

Maria - When/if you do find a carrier to write this coverage for you, be sure to read the dog bite language in the policy before you buy it.  A specimen can be provided, or the agent can at least type up the language in an email for your review.  

The language in some policies can speak to certain breeds being excluded, but many times they can go even further than that.  Some policies may exclude (1) dogs trained to guard people, property, or other animals; (2) dogs trained to attack people, property, or other animals; (3) dogs trained, bread, or kept as fighting animals; (4) dogs with a prior history of biting or otherwise attacking persons, property, or other animals.  

Hope you find this helpful!

What @Nathan G. said, but would add to send them an eviction notice to get their attention and set a time limit for them to perform or move. Otherwise, you may find yourself 30+ days from no with no REAL progress - just "lip service".

State farm takes all breeds pitbulls included. I looked into this already and their quote was not much different than Mercury.