I was walking my 2 dogs in apt complex. 2 dogs broke loose from owner & charged us, one was pit bull. The pit chased my dog over bridge in our complex & attacked my dog. When my dog was trying to run away, her collar came off. My dog needed 6 staples to close the wound. Pit not injured.Next morning, we both reported incident to landlord. Landlord said since both dogs were off leash, it's not their problem. Was told it was domestic issue. They have breed restrictions & I mentioned that at least 6 pits are on the property. I told her I no longer feel safe. Can I break lease for landlord not abiding by their policy: "must remove animal from premises if we receive "reasonable" complaint from resident."
Personal Injury Lawyer
I disagree with the landlord's assertion that an attack by a tenant's dog is some mere "domestic issue." A landlord may generally be liable for harm inflicted by a tenant's dog if the landlord knows or reasonably should know of the potential danger.
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Family Law Attorney
I believe that if the dogs are off leash and not in a fenced area then he is not responsible, the owners are. However, there might be some issues if there had been previous incidents. You may want to check with an animal lawyer.
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Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Based on the information you provided, I would initially look into filing a small claims action against the owner of the pitbull. Bring the vet bill.
If you want to terminate the lease agreement, you would first have to issue a 7-day notice of material non-compliance and give the landlord an opportunity to order the animal removed from the premises. If he takes reasonable steps, such as issuing a 7-day notice to the offending animals owner, you would likely have to stay until he simply stops making any efforts.
You should time that 7-day notice to be delivered (certified mail, return receipt requested) 8+ days before your next rent is due, or you'll have to pay another month worth of rent.
If there are no reasonable steps taken to resolve the issue, send another letter to the landlord (certified mail, return receipt requested) terminating the lease at the end of whatever current rental cycle period you are in.
- Have a place to move to (even temporarily) before doing this.
- Prepared to be sued (possibly for eviction), landlords generally don't appreciate tenants getting heavy handed with their rights.
- Expect the landlord to keep whatever security deposit you gave to commence the lease. You will need to sue to recover that. (Take VERY DETAILED pictures of the apartment after you move out to show a judge you did not damage it.)
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