Renter with dog. Who is responsible

8 Replies

I'm definitely new with rental property. First the lease is up and I'm considering asking them to move. I allowed them to have 1 dog but through out the year they have added a second dog without my consent. The dog (boxer) attacked the neighbors 4lb dog and it had to be put to sleep. My question I guess is if the boxer bites someone who is held responsible/accountable? I do carry homeowners however they carry no insurance. Thanks for all the input I may receive

@Carol ODell Welcome to BP! Your lease should require them to carry liability insurance. If the biting is serious enough-child gets chewed on the LL will be named in a suit so you need to carry liability insurance as well. Have your lease specify that the dog needs to be on a leash when others are present. All the best!

@Carol ODell Unfortunately you, the landlord, would be brought into this lawsuit and held responsible along with the tenant. Because you are the only on with insurance, your policy would end up paying the majority of the claim, if not all of it.

This is the reason Insurance policies are so restrictive on dogs.  

I would not renew their lease.  The dog should have been put down after it attacked the other dog.  If you tell them to get rid of the dog, they will likely claim it is an emotional support animal and then you are really stuck.  You now know you have a problem dog on the premises.  The fact that they have no insurance is another problem.  They have nothing to lose if they get sued, but you do. 

Any competent lawyer is going to sue both of you and since they don't have insurance you will be the primary target.  I would force them to get rid of the dog asap, it has already shown it to be a liability and they haven't been able to properly contain it.  You didn't know in the past so you could claim you didn't know it was aggressive however after the first attack you loose that defense.  They will probably claim it as an emotional support animal however it is unreasonable accommodation for you to have to  hold yourself liable for this.  In my lease I state the animal is allowed however it can be revoked at any time if it is causing damage or has shown to be aggressive.  If your lease requires renters insurance now would be a good time to enforce it, if not now you know going forward but you should still suggest it.  Out o fcuriousity how did the last one work out for you, did the neighbor take it up with the tenants or have they came to you for help.

"I do carry homeowners however they carry no insurance."

Well, if someone does sue they go after anyone with pockets and sounds like they've got one party that is judgment proof.  You may have a defense that you had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE they had another dog, but then you get into the "you should've known everything, you're a landlord".

LESSON - Tenant steps outside the lease, you need to act immediately and give them notice to cure.

You may want to get them out of there especially since they withheld the second dog without your consent. Speak with a local real estate attorney if needed to see how you may proceed.