Who is liable if a dog bites someone...the renter (renter's insurance w/personal liability), or the landlord/homeowner?

Asked almost 4 years ago - Houston, TX

My landlord knew I had the dog, but said it had to stay in back yard. He comes and sees dog is a pitbull and says he doesn't think it is going to work. Also says lease says no pets after we verbally decided it was fine as long as she remains out back. Anyway, he wants me to pay the "deductible" on his insurance (1st he said $1500, now he says $1400), plus the extra monthly cost they charge him. I have my own renters insurance and my insurance provides personal liability if my dog EVER bite anyone. He knew this, yet still elected to inform his insurance and it's not even his dog. I have a clause that even releases him from liability since I am the owner and assume 100% responsibility. I'm fine with paying a pet deposit or pet rent, but now I feel like he is trying to get over on me.

Additional information

I said what's the point in both of us having coverage for the dog and me pay both our insurance every month, plus I would have to pay my own deductible if she did bite someone. He says my insurance would reimburse his...=0. Can a person even go after 2 insurance companies at once? i thought deductibles were 500- 1000 dollars.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Paul Hilmon Cannon

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . Both a landowner as well as a person in control of the property (such as a renter) can be held personally liable for allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the property that poses a risk to others. A pit bull is a known dangerous dog. You potentially could face civil AND criminal liability if he gets out and attacks someone in light of Lillian's Law. Your landlord effectively has the same exposure as you. He would be irresponsible not to obtain his own protection.

    Aside from the fact that he could get sued directly, he has another good reason to disclose this to his insurance company. He has no guarantee that you will continue to pay the premiums timely on your insurance. He would be a fool to rely on his renter to pay for insurance to protect him and his property. He would also be a fool not to collect the deductible in advance and hold it as a deposit. Your best bet is to work out a refundable deposit agreement to cover his deductible.

  2. Paul Stephen Johnson

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . In the event of a lawsuit, the injured person could, indeed, sue both the dog's owner and the owner of the property, if the injury occurs on the property. You might want to compromise by paying a deposit of $1500, equal to his deductible, which would be refundable if never used.

  3. Nima Taradji

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . Both you and the property owner are on the hook if the dog causes damage to persons or property. The home owner was correct is notifying his insurance about the presence of the dog otherwise, if something would have happened, his insurance would have refused coverage--which would have been a bad thing for the both of you. You are also doing the right thong by having renter's insurance--make sure they know about the presence of the dog if you want not to lose your coverage in case there are damages.

    I hope this helps-

    Nima Taradji

    Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.

  4. Laura Mcfarland-Taylor

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Yes, a person can certainly sue more than one person and will sue more than one person if at all possible. Happens all the time and whether or not insurance companies are involved doesn't really matter. Even if your landlord got out of any suit against you, his insurance company is still going to "charge" him for defending against the suit.

    Deductibles can be any amount - there is no "set" amount.

    And as I said in my other response to your question - if the lease says no pets, then no pets. Your verbal agreement is going to be a matter of he said/she said, and the contract (lease) will trump should it go to court. If you decide to pay, then get it in writing that you paid X and you get to keep the dog for the duration of the lease.

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