Is the Landlord Liable When a Tenant’s Dog Bites Someone?
Landlords are often hesitant to rent a home to a person who owns a dog. This is understandable. Aside from the damage that the dog can cause to the property by accidents on the carpet, chewing on property, or digging holes in the yard, landlords are often troubled with the question, “what if my tenant’s dog bites someone?” Here’s what landlords need to know about Missouri dog bite liability before letting a tenant have dogs in the house:
There are no statutes in Missouri (or anywhere in the U.S.) that automatically make landlords liable for dog bites. That’s good news for the landlord. However, a dog bite victim will often consider making a claim against the landlord if the renter doesn’t have sufficient renter’s insurance. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their property is safe. An investigation will determine whether or not the landlord carried some responsibility in a dog bite situation.
Landlords can be held liable when their actions, or their failure to take actions increased the risk for the attack.
If the dog has a history of aggression
The first and most obvious example would be that the landlord knew that the dog had a history of aggression, but allowed it on the premises anyway. Once a dog has bitten someone, it is likely to do it again. You wouldn’t want a dog like that living on your property. However, aggression can be apparent in a dog, even if they have never bitten a human before. They may have a history of aggression towards other dogs or cats. In another blog, we talked about how the “one bite rule” can effect dog bite cases in certain states.
Since there are no “free bites” in Missouri, landlords should keep in mind that certain breeds of dogs are known to be more aggressive. Pit Bulls, for example, are a known aggressive breed. If your city has any regulations of certain breeds, you could be held accountable if one of those dogs is living on your property.
If lack of upkeep on your property contributed to the incident
Liability doesn’t only stem from allowing dogs on your property. As a landlord, you are responsible for the upkeep of your home. Failing to complete a repair could contribute to a dog bite incident. For example, if you don’t repair a reported broken gate within a reasonable amount of time, and the dog escapes and attacks someone on the premises, then you could be held accountable for your failure to fix the gate.
Finally, if the landlord had the right to control the dog directly, they could be held responsible. For example, if you rented a room to a tenant with a dog, and an attack occurs in a common area while you are supervising the animal.
Dog Bite Lawyers and Landlord Liability
Generally, courts are hesitant to impose liability on a landlord if the attack occurs off the premises. It is difficult to prove that a landlord had any kind of control over the vicious dog. Some states, like Kansas, do not ever impose liability on the landlord. Even if the landlord is aware that a dangerous dog is living on the property, they are still not liable for an animal attack. Look into the landlord liability laws in your state before you decide whether or not to allow a resident dog on your property.
In Missouri, it takes a skilled dog bite lawyer to build a case against a landlord whose negligence resulted in a dog bite or animal attack. We help dog bite victims to achieve the best possible compensation for their injuries. Your Schultz & Myers attorney will work relentlessly to ensure that the negligent party or parties are held responsible after a dog bite or dog attack occurs. Contact us at 314-444-4444 for a free consultation so that we can assess your unique case.