Can A Landlord Be Liable For A Tenant's Pit Bull Attack?
Owners of pit bulls and pit bull hybrids will no longer have to prove that they knew or should have known their dogs were dangerous before being held liable for attacks.
Because of their "aggressive and unpleasant temperament" and capacity to inflict considerable and deadly injury, pit bulls and pit bull mixes were judged "inherently hazardous" by the Tracey court. Renters with pit bulls or pit bull hybrids may now hold their landlords legally responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by the dogs they keep on the property. Maryland's Court of Appeals changed the state's legal landscape in a 4-3 ruling, siding with landlords and dog owners alike.
Landlords are hesitant to rent to renters because they are concerned about being held liable for dog-related mishaps. Landlords are seldom held liable when a tenant's dog is injured or killed as a consequence of their carelessness. For the landlord to be held liable, the dog's owner must be the renter of the property at issue. If a renter's dog injures a stranger, the landlord is not held liable. Courts often require landlords to have "harbored" or "kept" the tenant's dog, meaning that they have cared for or regulated it in some manner. Landlords and homeowner associations may be impacted as a consequence of these challenges. There may be a chance that the building owner's insurance will cover damages to a home if a landlord is found to be financially liable for them.
Pit bull attacks were recognized as a landlord liability risk after Tracey V. Solesky:
Legal action for a dog bite against a landlord entails proving that the landlord was liable for a dangerous pet dog; the landlord must also have been made aware of the animal's history of violence prior to Tracey v. Solesky. The Tracey court modified a large chunk of the legislation in situations where a pit bull or pit bull mix caused the harm.
A landlord may be held liable for his tenants' actions, but what can he do to avoid this? Landlords must first verify that they have enough liability insurance. As a consequence of Tracey, insurance firms may alter their policies in order to avoid paying out huge sums of money in pit bull-related claims. Because insurance plans may cover dog attacks, especially pit bull attacks, owners should carefully review their policy.
Landlords should strongly encourage tenants to get renter's insurance, which covers both the property and the renter's duties. Many people are unaware of how cheap renters' insurance may be and how much it can protect them from financial ruin. When a new tenant comes in, having a list of insurance companies or agents that provide renters' insurance might be beneficial. Prospective renters should know that the landlord doesn't like any of the businesses or services that are on the list.
Landlords and tenants disagree over whether pit bulls and other mixed breeds should be prohibited from their property. Pit bulls and pit bull mixes (and maybe all canines) are considered "inherently destructive" by landlords and may be forbidden from their properties if the owner is certain that their tenants will read and adhere to the conditions of their leases. Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are very safe canines. According to Tracey's critics, only by refusing to let this kind of dog on the premises would a landlord be safe from responsibility under the new regulation.
However, Maryland case law shows that the stated restriction will not help landlords who allow their tenants to bring pit bulls onto their property in violation of their lease terms. It is the landlord's responsibility to compensate for any damage caused by a dog attack on or from the owner's or lessor's property. In other words, a tenant's obligation is determined by their capacity to keep a pit bull on the premises. If the lease provision is broken, the landlord's written dog limitation may be used against him as proof that he was in charge of canine management.
Despite his best efforts, the landlord expressly states that pit bulls and pit bull hybrids are not permitted. What safeguards are in place to protect the landlord in the event that legal action is taken against him? Better still, the limitation should be enforced rather than just prohibited. Landlord liability for pit bull attacks has been established in Tracey's case, when the landlord was found accountable for an attack on a kid on his premises. Due to a lease clause, pets were not permitted in the Matthews residence. Despite this, the landlord chose to extend the lease and did not enforce the no-pets ban. Instead of focusing on the landlord's support of the tenant's behavior, the court recommends landlords "focus on their power to influence or terminate the tenant's behavior" (1986). According to one observer, by refusing to use his authority, "the message is that [he] shouldn't be able to avoid his commitments." As a result of the landlord's failure to enforce the lease's no-pets provision, the court found the landlord responsible in Matthews for breaching its duty of care to the plaintiff.
In Ward v. Hartley, 168 Md. App. 209, 895 A.2d 1111, a Maryland appeals court found that a landlord was not responsible for the injuries incurred by a taxi driver when a pit bull attacked him while he was on his way to pick up a tenant (2006). The landlord had no say if a tenant wanted to bring a dog since there was nothing in the agreement that banned them from doing so while renting from the landlord. Despite the absence of evidence demonstrating that the landlord was aware that the dog had been put on the premises, the landlord's lack of control over the premises was taken into account. Despite Tracey's exclusive emphasis on blame, earlier tenant control judgements may still be relied on in the future.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, a landlord's inability to limit the presence of dogs on his property makes it more difficult for a dog bite plaintiff to get a judgement against him. Because there were no rules for dog owners or people who owned land to follow, they could not be held liable in the event of a pet attack.
Due to the absence of a system to determine how much pit bull an animal must have in order to be labelled as a pit bull, holding mixed-breed pit bulls strictly responsible is "unworkable." Because experts cannot agree on what defines a pit bull, the courts cannot judge whether a dog is a pit bull, as the minority points out. We'll keep an eye on the Tracey instances to see if any of these issues may be resolved.
If you know how and have the means, you can get rid of the dog:
Owners of rental homes who were made aware of the dog's potential for damage but did not act may face legal consequences in a number of countries. However, there are a few exceptions to the norm. Landlords may not be held liable for their tenants' dogs' conduct, even if they are aware of the hazards they pose. The foreman called the Montana police station to notify the rancher that his foreman's dog had attacked someone. The dog's owner, Rancher was found not guilty despite the dog's subsequent attacks on neighborhood utility staff while they were reading meters. If they had taken care of it, the rancher's obligations would have been eased.
In its purest and most comprehensive form. Landlords may be held accountable if they are aware that a tenant's dog is causing injury to others. As a practical matter, the landlord must be made aware of any past incidents in which the dog endangered or hurt a third party.
A landlord may be held accountable for an attack on a guest by a tenant's dog if the landlord was not aware of the event. Because of the circumstances, it was found that the landlord was not responsible for the dog's injuries. In Colorado, landlords have the authority to intervene if their tenants' pets are dangerous or violent. The landlord offered dog care to a potential tenant prior to signing the lease. His granddaughter was attacked by a dog when he and his family were in town for two weeks. The fact that he had previously leased to the previous renter did not prevent him from doing so. A court declared the landlord accountable for the boy's injuries after the dogs bit and dug their teeth into him. According to the court, landlords who allow tenants to rent their buildings risk "clear danger of damage." Any landlord who overlooks clear proof that one of their tenants' pets is dangerous will face severe consequences. Punitive damages may be imposed on tenants in order to make a negligent landlord responsible for his or her actions. In an Alaskan mobile home park, a 6-year-old child was bitten by two dogs belonging to the next-door neighbor. A jury awarded her $550,000 in punitive damages, in addition to $235,000 in compensatory damages. Following further examination, the mobile home park was found to have shown "blatant disregard for its people's safety" by failing to react to incidents involving the tenants' dogs.
When a dog mauled a nine-day-old child in Ohio, some landlords blamed the dog, while others did not. Landlords were not forced to take any further action since they needed to testify that they were incorrect about the dog's fate. When holding landlords accountable for knowing about circumstances (such as the existence of a hazardous dog) on their property, these courts may not let other landlords off the hook in comparable situations.
Some one needs held liable for a out of control dog:
A landlord should not be held liable for a dog he is unable to control or get rid of. Assume a landlord purchases a building that already has a tenant and a terrible dog on a one-year lease. If he is unable to remove the dog, it is unlikely that he would do any harm to himself or anybody else. Damages made by a dog that the landlord was unable to manage may hold them liable for the animal's activities. According to media reports, two dogs belonging to a tenant in North Carolina bit and attacked a person. The landlord has the authority under the lease agreement to remove a tenant's pets within 48 hours. According to the court, the canines would not have constituted a hazard if the landlord had exercised control over them. You can safeguard yourself and your tenants whether or not the property comes with a potentially harmful or boisterous dog. Because even if no one is upset by the dog, you may need to think about getting rid of it. To keep your dog inside, you may avoid eviction by erecting a fence or placing warning signs around the property.
Injuries Caused by Factors Outside of the Owner's Control:
Even if your dog is not on the property you've leased, you might face legal repercussions. In the state of Oregon, anyone who knew or should have known that their tenants' dogs constituted an undue risk of injury may be held liable for any damages caused by their actions. He was made aware of the issue when county authorities considered the dog "possibly hazardous" and permitted it to wander free. According to a California appellate court, the same criteria are applied to dog assaults that occur beyond the premises. The landlord is liable for any damage caused by a dog that escapes from his or her property. If a dog bites a person while they are on the premises of a renter's home, the landlord is not responsible for their injuries.
How To Look After A Renter's Pet:
The "keeper" or "harbored" of a dog may be considered its legal owner for the purposes of establishing who is accountable for harm caused by the dog. This restriction may not apply if the landlord has other tenants except for the one with a dog. Here are some samples to get you started:
Despite the fact that he did not live in Illinois, a landlord from another state hired an Illinois citizen to manage his apartment complex. Residents who requested back yard fences were given them by the building's management. He had to get his nose surgically repaired when a 65-pound dog hopped the fence and bit him. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that keeping a dog in the state was prohibited. There has to be evidence that the landlord was in charge of the dog's care, custody, or control in order for him to be declared accountable.
Unlike landlords in other states, Connecticut landlords did not provide dog owners with food or care for their dogs. The dog was not permitted to wander freely around the building. Because there was no "keeper" of the dog, no one was held responsible for the dog's bite.
As a result, under Minnesota dog bite rules, the landlord is not deemed the owner of a mobile home park tenant's dog. A court of law ruled that a dog attack on a two-year-old on a landlord's property was not the landlord's responsibility. Dog-bite laws were the main factor in determining who was responsible for an animal's actions.
A Wisconsin court ruled that because of the dogs' close proximity to the residence in the woods, the landlord was not accountable for their well-being. People who rent from landlords who don't own or care for pets aren't liable for accidents caused by their dogs because of general negligence rules.