This post was reviewed by Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq., an attorney licensed in New York and New Jersey. He is owner and legal content writer for a law practice marketing firm and a realty group focusing on new construction builds in upstate New York, where he lives with his lovely wife and his counselor-at-bark Flora, a mixed breed rescue.
Is a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog bites someone? If the landlord knows the dog’s existence inside their apartment, the liability falls to the landlord and the dog’s owner. The landlord will become co-responsible for the dog’s behavior.
Some people may not afford to purchase their own homes, so an apartment is an option. Although some have their pets that they can’t abandon. Especially when you have a dog that has been with you for how many years is so amazing.
Keeping a pet in an apartment depends on the owners of the apartment, of course. Some allow the pets in, and some don’t. Even though some apartments do not allow pets in, some hard-headed tenants slip their pets in.
Then this comes to the cases in which the pets of the tenants bite someone. Is that the liability of the owner of the apartment? Which does the liability falls under? The owner of the dog, the tenant, or the victim?
A Case Manifesting The Liability Of A Landlord For A Dog Bite
Just like what happened in the case of Stokes v. Lyddy, 75 Conn. App. 252, 815 A.2d 263 (Conn. App. Ct. 2003). The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the apartment owner because she was attacked and bitten by the dog owned by one of the tenants of the defendant’s apartment. She wanted compensation and medical financing because of what happened to her.
The plaintiff believes that the defendant is liable for what happened to her. However, the defendant has no knowledge of the dog’s existence in the apartment. With many of her complaints, the incident still occurred in a public place where the defendant has no control.
With this, who do you think the liability falls into? Is a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog bites someone? In the first place, what responsibilities does a keeper or owner of the dog and a landlord have? Read more to know about it.
Being a landlord
In being a landlord, there are also some responsibilities that you should make. It includes more than just collecting rent from the tenants and letting them sleep in the rooms they’ve rented.
Landlords solve the other tenants, repairman, the salespersons and are the negotiators between others. They, too, should know how to handle problem tenants and tenants of different types.
Landlord Obligations And Responsibilities
Landlords have obligations and responsibilities to uphold. Being a landlord doesn’t only mean that you only have to get money from rent, but you should also have the following duties.
One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to maintain the premises. That is to keep up with the property’s maintenance. That includes running water, electricity, and the cleanliness of the area. Maintaining the property also includes repairs of anything that is within the property’s jurisdictions.
As a landlord, maintaining the property involves following the building codes, repairs, maintaining common areas, and a functioning trash receptacle.
- Building codes
Being a landlord is not just for collecting rents, but you are also responsible for protecting your tenants’ safety. Not just physically but also legally. Ensure that the building you are being rented abides by the local safety rules, codes, and regulations.
Being a landlord, you have to be a repairman and know how to repair a lot of property. Repairs are necessary for maintaining the premises, but not all costs must be shouldered by the landlord only. There are some instances that tenants must be the ones to pay for the repairs due to their negligence.
- Maintaining common areas
Maintaining common areas includes maintenance and cleaning the premises. A landlord must keep the place clean and habitable for the tenants. To ensure that the tenants have a safe place to live, landlords must make arrangements to provide living necessities like water and electricity.
- Trash receptacles
While maintaining the premises clean, a landlord must also provide trash receptacles so that the tenants may help with keeping the place clean and habitable. Removing and replacing the garbage bags are also a landlord’s duty, or have someone else do it.
The tenants are the landlord’s customers. Tenants are expected to pay on time and be clean and respectful to their neighbors. Tenants pay the rent in mind that the landlord should provide them with the care they need. Here are some of the responsibilities a landlord has for tenants.
- Safe environment
Tenants must feel safe because leasing an apartment is just like renting a home. Although family and a house are quite different, making sure that the place where your tenants are sleeping is safe. Who would want to sleep in a dangerous place? We’ I don’t.
Negligence of this aspect could result in your tenants to flee causing your significant business damage. Your business will not thrive as a landlord, but you can also lose your job as a landlord. You don’t want something terrible happening to your source of income.
To ensure the safety of the tenants, having a padlock for every room is a good idea. You could also hire a security guard to guard the gate and let the tenants go I only. Another is to install CCTV cameras all over the place. That way, you did not only protect the safety of your tents but yourself too.
- Quiet environment
Who would want a loud place to sleep in? You, having a hard-headed rock star that makes concerts every night at the apartment, can be pretty exhausting. When you are sleeping, you would want to sleep in a calm, quiet place. So it is your responsibility as a landlord to keep things peaceful.
I know that not all people are awake only during the day as some are active during the night, but small talk could make the loud voices down. However, you can prevent this from happening by screening tenants. Apply strict policies when it comes to keeping the place peaceful at night time.
If there are disputes and conflicts between tenants, you could use this brochure to inform you of some common disputes between tenants. This may save up your resources as well as brainstorming when you read this.
- Repair request
Tenants are the ones that pay their rent—of course, who else does? So you are responsible for their requests when it comes to repairs in a reasonable amount of time. This includes repairs with cabinets, non-working faucet, broken light bulb, or non-working door lock.
Just because your tenant hasn’t paid their bill lately doesn’t mean you should not go to their distress. As a landlord, your responsibility is to lend a hand when maintaining the premises working. Unpaid rent isn’t the problem, and it’s not an excuse.
Being active in the community meetings about policies within the area must be actively participated by the landlord.
A landlord must screen their tenants first to avoid letting in a criminal that could endanger other tenants. Ensuring that the tenants have a clear record is a plus for tenants’ safety. The tenants will not be the only one that is safe, but the community as well.
When it comes to renting a place to live in, landlords are not the only ones responsible for it. As a tenant, you must know your obligation and responsibilities also. Keeping up with these responsibilities could keep you away from harm. Here are your responsibilities as a tenant.
#1. On-time rent payment
A tenant should pay on time. To avoid paying late, you must pay the rent the day you decided to lease the place. However, there might be some differences in paying the rent because of some tenancy agreements.
As the one living in that room, you might want to keep your place clean and habitable. No one wants a lousy fouling place to live at. At least be considerate enough for yourself and fix up your business. Keeping your area clean and sanitize will prevent you from getting diseases.
The damages that you’ve made must be fixed by yourself also. It is reasonable enough to fix what you broke. It is like taking back what it has been before. This may include the damages your visitors may have done or break from regular use.
#4. Be considerate
Be considerate of others, especially at night. Some people enjoy a peaceful and quiet evening. Please don’t ruin it for them. Keep your voice down. Do your best not to disturb your fellow tenants on purpose.
If you think you are suffering some discrimination or abuse from your landlord, checking the tenants’ human rights is an excellent way to go. You will find here many topics concerning your human rights as a tenant of the housing.
#5. Obey the law
As a responsible citizen, one should obey the law. That includes the laws presiding within the area where you live at. Abiding by the law also includes honoring your lease agreement. Breaking it will result from breach of a contract or read the Residential Tenancies act.
With abiding by the law, tenants should also know the other rules concerning the rent increase, charges, deposits, maintenance, eviction, and repairs that every tenant must know.
#6. Know your rights
As the tenant, you must know and exercise your rights. You may be a victim of overly greedy landlords in your apartment, so you must at least know your rights as a tenant. Everyone has it since we have a government; this is to protect you from individual abuse, so use it well.
The Landlord-Tenant Law is made to ensure every party’s safety and rights. This was established to clear disputes and conflicts between both parties. This law also shows the obligations of both the landlord and tenants. Here are the essential parts of the law.
#1. Security deposit
Every landlord has the right to charge their tenants with security deposits. This is to prevent the tenant from paying the rent late. Under this security deposit is the tenant’s failure to pay the rent, damage the property or breach the lease agreement.
Following this rule, the landlord should follow local laws concerning security. Failing to follow these laws, the landlord can face legal consequences. However, it is not all for the landlord because these security deposits are refundable.
#2. Disclosure of owner
One of the essential information that the landlords may not spill is the said building’s ownership. The lease agreement lies between the tenant and those who signed it. The property owner has nothing to do with the deal.
The names and addresses of the landlords or the ones who are in charge must be disclosed. Disclosures must be written, and changes must be noticed to the tenant. It ensures that the tenant knows the correct person to pay the rent with and ask for maintenance requests.
#3. Possession of the unit
Under the landlord-tenant law, it is the obligation to deliver the possession of the unit. It shows the new tenant the property that the tenant has leased on the move-in date specified. Failure to do so, the tenant can file a case of breach of contract. However, this situation is often solved with communication.
If the landlord found someone squatting there, the landlord may pursue legal actions against the person. The landlords could even get damage compensation out of it.
As mentioned in the above statements, landlords are obliged to maintain the property to a habitable state. Cleaning, repairs, and safety are some of the top priorities. A landlord must follow the codes and policies covering the property, like building codes and reasonable and necessary repairs.
The liability of the landlord is limited within the property, mostly adhering to lease agreements. Weakness is relieved only if they sell the property and when he notifies the tenant about the new owner.
The new owner will then become the one liable for the responsibilities and obligations the old landlord had. However, the landlord that collected the security deposits is still responsible for it.
They could either transfer the deposit to the new owner or return the security deposits with allowable deductions for the service. You still have to check the state and local landlord-tenant laws governing your area to know more about its obligations and limitations.
Landlord Liability With Tenants’ Dog
One of the main reasons why landlords are hesitant to let tenants rent with dogs is the fear that the dogs might get someone injured and cause them to pay the bills. The responsibility does not only fall to the owner but the landlord as well.
Is a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog bites someone? A landlord is responsible for a tenant dog bite is rare. Although leasing the premises with a dog owner could be a bad idea in the first place.
In Stokes v.Liddy and Georgianna v. Gizzy, the landlord is not liable for its tenant’s dog to bite since it was known to be a friendly dog. The landlord could only be kept liable if the landlord knew that the dog is dangerous enough to attack other people.
As a landlord, you should know your power, not the superpowers we see in science fiction movies. I mean the controls that let you remove the dog or the tenant in an apartment.
Although not all states use the rule to make the landlords liable for their tenant’s dog bite, they know that it is implausible for someone to bite someone.
The landlord is only held liable when the landlord knows that the dog is a danger to others. If the landlord already knows that the tenant’s dog has threatened someone and still kept the tenant and the dog renting, the landlord is liable.
If a landlord ignores this evidence, him/she can be punished by the law. The landlord could pay compensation together with the owner to the victim. This is called a punitive charge. Ignorance can be a terrifying enemy.
- Power to remove the dog
As I have mentioned earlier, a landlord has the power to remove the dog from its premises. It is unfair for the landlord to shoulder responsibilities that are not his doing, don’t you agree?
Let’s say a person rented that place and paid the lease for the whole year, and then the incident happened within that time. The landlord has no power to remove the dog from the premises since the landlord agreed to lease the apartment to the person with the dog.
Although, the rent can be terminated if the agreement is a month-to-month rental agreement. The landlord could terminate the rent with a 30-days’ notice beforehand after finding that the tenant’s dog is dangerous for others. It is to avoid serious problems that could arise like this.
Harboring A Tenant’s Dog
For someone who keeps a dog has the responsibility of keeping it under control. It is usually the legal owner who takes all the liability, but you share the same duties as a keeper. Especially to a landlord who does more than collect the rent, may not be considered as a keeper like the following:
- Off the fence
The landlord is not liable nor a keeper of the dog if the landlord shows precautionary measures like fencing the backyard. If the backyard has fences used by every other tenant and a dog owner keeps the dog there, the landlord is not liable for any injuries that the dog may inflict outside the fence.
- No contact
A landlord is not liable for the dog’s damage with visitors in the apartment when the landlord never cared for the dog. When the dog is not allowed to roam outside, it is not permitted to use the yard to keep the dog in. Thus the landlord is not the keeper of the dog.
- Outside dogs
Of course, the landlord should not be held liable for someone else’s dog bite even though the victim is a tenant. The case would be between the dog owner and the tenant victim, even if it happened inside the landlord’s premises. The landlord has nothing to do with this.
If you are having a hard time knowing how to solve disputes between tenants and landlord, try visiting the Landlord and Tenant Board. You can find here the information in various situations that could help resolve conflicts between tenants and landlords.
Is a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog bites someone? The answer to that question depends on the knowledge and actions of the landlord himself. If the landlord knows the dog’s dangers could bring and still kept it, he may be liable otherwise.
Some apartments allow dogs and some that don’t. It is within the apartment’s agreement to lease if a pet is allowable or not. But then again, having a pet is the responsibility of the owner. An incident concerning the pet in hand or owned is the owners’ liability.
A landlord could is considered a keeper, but that depends on some circumstances. Some landlords don’t let their tenant’s pets roam inside the building or go out of the unit.
It is to avoid disputes and future problems the pet could give. Nevertheless, prevention is better than cure. It is never wrong to take caution of the decisions that may affect your future.