Georgia Landlord liability for dog bites, some common questions
In Georgia, when can a landlord be held responsible when a tenant's dog bites someone? While it can be difficult to hold a landlord responsible, there are circumstances under which a landlord may owe a duty and compensation to a dog bite injury victim.
General rule regarding landlord liability for dog bites caused by a tenant's dogThe general rule is that a landlord who has fully parted with possession and the right of possession is not responsible to third persons for damages resulting from the negligence or illegal use of the premises by the tenant. The landlord is only responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair according to O.C.G.A. 44-7-14.
Landlord knowingly allows vicious dogs to be kept on the premises.In Lidster v. Jones, 176 Ga. App. 392, (1985), a mother/ plaintiff argued that an apartment complex did not exercise ordinary care and as a result the plaintiffs' child was bitten by a dog. The plaintiff alleged that the ownership and managing agents of the complex had actual knowledge that the dog of another tenant had vicious propensities but did nothing to keep the dog out of the common areas where the child was injured. The manager of the complex knew that the dog was vicious and had attacked other individuals on occasion. Where an owner (landlord) has retained control over common areas of an apartment complex to which tenants and others are allowed access, the owner is liable under O.C.G.A. 51-3-1 to exercise ordinary care in keeping those common areas safe. Furthermore in Lidster the court stated, "the degree of care owed to a child may be greater than that which would be owed to an adult under the same circumstances." The court of appeals held, "whether or not the defendant exercised ordinary care under the circumstances was a jury question, as was whether the owner or the manager had knowledge of the existence of a condition that may have subjected the child to an unreasonable risk of harm." Thus, if it It is forseeable to a landlord that a dog running loose could bite a person, an argument can be made that whether or not the management is liable is a question for the jury.
Landlord fails to keep the premises in repair, resulting in a dog escaping and biting a person.In Forsh v. Williams, 321 Ga. App. 556 (2013), the Georgia Court of Appeals found that if a landlord fails to keep a premises in repair, such as failing to repair a fence or gate after knowing that a tenant is keeping a dog on the property, a landlord may have liability for damages arising from that failure. In other words, if a landlord knows that a fence intended to confine a dog is defective, and the dog escapes and causes an injury or damage, the landlord could be found responsible.