Why landlords should exclude dogs in every lease.

Why landlords should exclude dogs in every lease.

Before I get bombarded by dog loves, I put my beloved Australian Shepard Major Mo down in July 2015 when his hips could no longer hold him up. For dog lovers like me, you know the pain of putting a 14 year old dog down. So this isn’t coming from a dog hater but a risk adviser on why landlords should exclude dogs on every lease/rental agreement.

Australian Shepard dog
Major Mo

So while Major Mo never did bite anyone, my daughter got bit on her face by a friends coonhound dog. Bending over to grab her backpack for a girl scout camping trip, the friends dog got let into the house and immediately went after the stranger in the house – my daughter. Twenty three stitches later closed the wound and we informed the homeowner to notify their insurance company.

While $35,000 isn’t much for a face wound, we did this without presenting a lawsuit just dealing with the insurance company directly and their claims representative. Since they were the owner’s of the duplex they lived in, they did have insurance in place.

Why landlords should exclude dogs in every lease.

But if they were the tenant, more than likely, no insurance would have been in place and we would have been suing the landlord instead. In fact, 83% of all renters do NOT carry renters insurance, so renters with dogs then become a landlord issue – with the landlord being sued not the tenant due to no insurance in place(which should never be!).

Homeowner dog claims
Dog Claims

The fact that most renters do not carry renters insurance is why I stated at the beginning, that landlords exclude dogs from their leases. But let’s say you get a good, responsible tenant that does carry renters insurance and you allow a dog. What if they forgot to pay the insurance premium, let the policy lapse or changed insurance companies and dropped this coverage? You then become the responsible party to any dog bite related claims. But even if they do carry renters insurance, you will be brought in on a lawsuit (if they have a good personal injury attorney).

Or what if they get a second, more aggressive dog and don’t tell you? Too many variables with a tenant who has a dog, to make my professional opinion say, “It’s OK”…..when, in fact, it is not. Landlords need to be aware of the risks they face when allowing a dog on their property. It is just being a smart property owner, protecting what you have built, to let a lawsuit ruin your future in your landlord portfolio.

Why landlords should exclude dogs in every lease.

Be a smart landlord.

Tom Larsen

P.S. – Dog bites are the #1 home and landlord liability insurance claim in the US. So it is the main reason for my words to you, Mr & Mrs Landlord to be a responsible landlord.

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