Rent to tenants with pit bulls/aggressive breeds?

37 Replies

Curious to the group’s ideas and procedures about renting to tenants with pit bulls. We have a vacancy and some prospective tenants applied but have pit bulls. I’m curious how others handle this, and if they rent but insist on evidence of renter’s insurance, etc.

Curious to your feedback.

Thanks in advance.

Brent

I had a similar problem when advertising my rental. I sent an email to my insurance guy asking this same question and he sent me a list of dog breeds that they wouldn't insure. Top of the list was pit bulls. A few perspective tennents were calling their pit bulls emotional support animals. Eventually I got a great tennent with no pets. 

It's a personal choice. They can make great pets but they can also tear off faces and do a lot of damage to rentals. If your insurance company won't cover them then I wouldn't even consider it.

Renters insurance will not protect you from a law suite over a dog attack regardless of the breed. If your insurance will not cover you for certain breeds you can not rent to them. Pit owners know this and take their chances finding a place to live. Send them on their way and let Mom and Pop rent to them.

Real estate is supposed to make life better.  Stick with non-aggressive breads, no insurance problems, and tougher questions like how to find good opportunities rather than tying up mind share with problems that make for tired landlords...food for thought.

I look at it this way.  While I'm aware that Pit Bulls (and Rottweilers and Dobermans and other restricted breeds) can be and usually are very sweet dogs and good pets.  Insurance companies spend a lot of time, money, and research on their actuary tables.  They do not care about a breed's "reputation".  They care about "which breed(s) cost us the most money in claims".

So, when insurance companies restrict those breeds, I listen.

you run real risk if you dont have insurance..  Our G shepard bit one person in her life.. someone who walked in our home without permission saw the dog and ran.. she nipped her in the butt.  Instinct.

that cost the insurance company 12k and they would no longer insure our dog.. so we went without insurance for the rest of her days. and kept the dead bolt on so no one could walk in like this lady did. 

in a rental situation i cant see how you can allow breeds that cannot be insured.  We have all seen and heard the horror stories.  I see these poor dogs in the deep south ( almost always pitts ) chained up in back yards of tenants houses.. its so sad and cruel.. you almost want to Euthinize the dog on the spot.  

I have seen these tenatns leave the dogs chained and jsut move on no water no shelter..  

@Brent Kiger you may have legal issues if prospective tenants claim their Pitbull is an "Emotional Support Animal". You may be legally required to accept them, your animal policy notwithstanding. Search BP for discussions on that topic. Good luck! You'll need it!

We don't allow any dangerous breeds, the County where the property has a list that we refer to.

The liability is just too high to rent to a tenant with a Pit.  They may try to play the "emotional support" animal nonsense but you can still deny them.  You just cannot deny them because of the Pit.  Just find another reason that they would be an unacceptable applicant.  Either lack of credit, poor credit, lack of landlord references, income requirements, better qualified other candidates , etc 

Definitely sounds to me like they just don't meet your rental criteria. Must have been a credit or income problem. Had nothing to do with the animals. 

I don't. I wouldnt want my neighbor to have them with my kids being little so I take the same approach to my property. It's just too risky in my opinion

@Brent Kiger renters insurance is useless because it doesn't protect landlords and tenants usually drop the insurance after moving in. When you rent to someone with pit bulls, you become a liable party if something happens. If your insurance prohibits the breed in your policy, they will not protect you and when they find out, they will drop your policy. If the dog attacks someone, who do you think will get sued? The tenant or the rich landlord?

It seems every potential renter that contacts me with pit bull has at least two. They come off sounding entitled and aggressive on the phone. 

First thing. Do not  rent to owners of aggressive breed dogs. Your insurance is going to have a clause that says they do not cover these breeds and is you sign your insurance forms and the dog attacks a person guess who is getting sued without insurance?

Second. Do not spend a lot of time worrying about the service dog/emotional support animal angle that potential tenants will try. As a landlord you have to make reasonable accommodations but you do not have to undergo undue financial and administrative burden. Just have your insurance quote the amount it will take per month to cover a pit bull and you will see the undue financial burden immediately. Turning the emotional support animal tenant away for this reason is the same as not building a ramp to a second floor apartment because the tenant is in a wheel chair.

@Brent Kiger To answer your questions about ideas and procedures when it comes to renting to someone with a pit bull, it is important to remember that at anytime that person decides to make the animal an ESA you will no longer be able to charge them "pet" rent because technically it's not a "pet" anymore. 

The reason this is obviously relevant is because your income from the property is going to go down each month and the inevitable damage that comes because of having a pet will cost you more than usual when you make the unit ready for the next tenant. Those repair costs can be very difficult to get from an ex-tenant once they move-out.

For these reasons I think that @Michael Jones is absolutely correct. You haven't started leasing to these people so there is still hope! Move on, there are better tenants out there.

I accept all dog breeds and Ive never had a problem. However in Maryland landlords have no liability for a tenants dog, and I only have A and B class properties and tennants.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

I accept all dog breeds and Ive never had a problem. However in Maryland landlords have no liability for a tenants dog, and I only have A and B class properties and tennants.

 no pitt bulls chained to a post in your backyards  ???   

Pit bulls are no more aggressive than many other breeds . All depends on how owner has trained them . 

I know , I have 2 rescued ones and the baby takes food from their mouth . 

Originally posted by @Michael Jones :

@Russell Brazil

https://dogbitelaw.com/one-bite-state/maryland-dog-bite-law

This link to case law in Maryland seems to indicate that the landlord is and will be liable for a dangerous dog especially in properties where common areas are shared.

 The information there is outdated.  The legislature passed a law specifically in response to the Tracey case mentioned in the article nullifying the courts position. The law removed the courts stance on pitbulls and removed liability from the landlords entirely.

And if I recall correctly, the vote was unanimous, showing just how rediculous the courts decision was in that case.

Pit bulls are no more aggressive than many other breeds . All depends on how owner has trained them .

I know , I have 2 rescued ones and the baby takes food from their mouth.  

 

-Whether it's the pit bull or the owner who is the problem is irrelevant as a landlord because let's face it, you'll never have saint pit bull living in your rental without an owner.  So you are right back to it's a risk, you will have some good pit bull/owner combos or bad pit bull/owner combos.  

Insurance companies who assess risk don't care about who is the bad apple, the owner or the pit bull, only what are the odds of a dog bite doing serious damage leading to a large claim?  Is it going to come from a pit bull or a yorkie?  Claims data can concretely answer that question pretty easy, hence the "breed ban" seen by many insurance carriers.      

@Brent Kiger . Due to the excessive damage from pets, we choose a no pet policy.

Pit Bulls and sex offenders are a no-no in my rentals. Aplogies to the pit bulls! ;<))

Originally posted by @Brent Kiger :

Curious to the group’s ideas and procedures about renting to tenants with pit bulls. We have a vacancy and some prospective tenants applied but have pit bulls. I’m curious how others handle this, and if they rent but insist on evidence of renter’s insurance, etc.

Curious to your feedback.

Thanks in advance. Brent

Check your own insurance coverage and local laws. If you can insure the breed for an additional premium, see if you can get any ROI on that. IE if the additional premium is $50/mo but you can charge $100/mo more in rent because someone w/ a pit bull won't be able to find a comparable property that will accept that breed, its a pretty nice return. I like to rent to "untouchable" applicants like these with something in their application that excludes them from 90% of the market as long as I can get a premium rent amount for doing so and adjust for the risk. And these types of renters are usually less transient as they have less options, therefore reducing your vacancy cost.

But whatever you do, don't accept any additional risk w/o more $$$ to make up for it.

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