Landlords dog may bite someone

14 Replies

Hi Everyone, I have a California specific question.

My wife and I rent a guest house and the landlord just came to our door and asked us to sign an addendum to the lease releasing him from any liability that would arise if we were to be bitten by one of their dogs. 

The addendum states

"Tenants hereby expressly and knowingly release, discharge, and hold harmless Landlord from any and all liabilities arising from any injury, harm, loss, or other events which may occur as a result from Landlord's dogs. Tenants agree to indemnify and hold harmless Landlord against any and all losses, lawsuits or expenses by reason f the liability or potential liability of Tenants pets/dogs or arising out of any claims for damages."

I am wondering if it is legal to sign away your rights to a personal injury claim like this. The dogs are very friendly and we are not worried about being bitten, however we also want to make sure we are still protected IF anything were to happen because you never know. Does anyone have any insight into the legality of this?

How long have you got on your current lease?  You can't be required to sign an addendum partway though a lease, but if you don't sign it you'll be looking for a new place in x months.  If you feel the dogs are friendly and don't think they'll bite, go ahead and sign it.  Either way, you or the next tenant the landlord gets is going to be signing the addendum.

So you want the landlord to be responsible for injuries your dogs may cause ?   They are your pets , you and your wife alone should be held responsible for any damages they cause . NOT the landlord .

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :

So you want the landlord to be responsible for injuries your dogs may cause ?   They are your pets , you and your wife alone should be held responsible for any damages they cause . NOT the landlord .

 Matt I think you misread the OP.

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :

So you want the landlord to be responsible for injuries your dogs may cause ?   They are your pets , you and your wife alone should be held responsible for any damages they cause . NOT the landlord .

 read the original post. "One of THEIR dogs"

The dogs are not mine, they are owned by a member of the landlords family and live on the property with the landlord who takes care of them.

Originally posted by @David Cruice :

How long have you got on your current lease?  You can't be required to sign an addendum partway though a lease, but if you don't sign it you'll be looking for a new place in x months.  If you feel the dogs are friendly and don't think they'll bite, go ahead and sign it.  Either way, you or the next tenant the landlord gets is going to be signing the addendum.

I've been in my lease for 6 months and have 6 months left. I've told the landlord that I will not sign the addendum and he is pretty peeved. He seems to think that since he owns the property I have to sign whatever he tells me to otherwise he will throw me out. I have not broken the lease in any way. I carefully read it before signing and make sure that I adhere to it.

Unfortunately I think you are right that I will need to find a new place in 6 months. The dogs are very friendly and I'm not worried about them at all, however I still don't think it is wise to sign away legal rights. I know that sometimes animals (and people) can snap without warning and if that were to happen I don't want to suddenly be responsible for thousands of dollars of medical bills. 

I work in a sometimes dangerous service job and I do my best to be careful and stay safe, however I would never sign away my workers comp and disability rights just in case something ever did happen, I guess I look at this the same way

Andrew, although you may not like it, the landlord is doing the absolute right thing in asking you, his tenant, to sign such an addendum in order to indemnify himself.  Don't take it personally.  If the rolls were reversed, you should want to do exactly the same thing as well.  If you have tenants of your own and allow them to keep a dog at the property, I hope you have a pet addendum that indemnifies you against your tenant's dog biting anyone while on your property.  To be honest with you, if I was you and I felt the dogs where safe, I'd most probably sign the addendum.  If I felt the dogs were unsafe, I wouldn't want to stay at the property - addendum or not.  At the end of the day, it's up to you, but finding a good landlord and moving is a pain in the a . . .!  Best of luck, whichever way you decide to go.  

Originally posted by @David Cruice :

Andrew, although you may not like it, the landlord is doing the absolute right thing in asking you, his tenant, to sign such an addendum in order to indemnify himself.  Don't take it personally.  If the rolls were reversed, you should want to do exactly the same thing as well.  If you have tenants of your own and allow them to keep a dog at the property, I hope you have a pet addendum that indemnifies you against your tenant's dog biting anyone while on your property.  To be honest with you, if I was you and I felt the dogs where safe, I'd most probably sign the addendum.  If I felt the dogs were unsafe, I wouldn't want to stay at the property - addendum or not.  At the end of the day, it's up to you, but finding a good landlord and moving is a pain in the a . . .!  Best of luck, whichever way you decide to go.  

I'm curious as to why the landlord is doing the right thing? The dogs are his, therefore the liability is his. Why should I be responsible for associated costs if his dog bites me? 

If I had a tenant with a dog I would make them sign a pet addendum of course, however it is a different scenario because they would own the dog, not me.

Not trying to be combative with you, just trying to understand your thought process. I don't have any tenants in my rentals with pets, but I will be adding that a clause into leases in the future should I decide to rent to animal owners

You're absolutely correct that " The dogs are his, therefore the liability is his."  What your landlord is doing is mitigating his liability.  If he wants to mitigate his liability and you won't sign an addendum then he has only 2 options - (1) Get rid of the dogs or (2) Get rid of you.  Put yourself in his shoes:  You have a nice house with a room you want to rent out.  You also have an equally nice dog, but there's always the possibility that the lovable pooch could bite your tenant - either provoked or unprovoked.  So, to ensure you can keep on renting our your spare room without the possibility of being sued by your tenant should your dog bite him or her, the only way to mitigate your risk is to have the tenant indemnify you by signing the addendum.  You can't have a dog and a tenant without the risk of being sued if you don't have an addendum.  Hope this helps.

Originally posted by @David Cruice :

You're absolutely correct that " The dogs are his, therefore the liability is his."  What your landlord is doing is mitigating his liability.  If he wants to mitigate his liability and you won't sign an addendum then he has only 2 options - (1) Get rid of the dogs or (2) Get rid of you.  Put yourself in his shoes:  You have a nice house with a room you want to rent out.  You also have an equally nice dog, but there's always the possibility that the lovable pooch could bite your tenant - either provoked or unprovoked.  So, to ensure you can keep on renting our your spare room without the possibility of being sued by your tenant should your dog bite him or her, the only way to mitigate your risk is to have the tenant indemnify you by signing the addendum.  You can't have a dog and a tenant without the risk of being sued if you don't have an addendum.  Hope this helps.

 I see your point and you are correct, In his position I would love to not be liable for the actions of my dog. It seems the issue is finding someone willing to sign away their rights. I personally won't do it, but perhaps the next guy will

I would sign it - as long as he signs a document stating that:  if his dog does in fact bite you or a loved one that you won’t help hold him responsible however you will have the right to shoot the dog in the head . If no one is responsible for Fido then he’s responsible for himself and must  suffer the consequences of his actions .