Question: Does a landlord have liability when their tenant’s dog bites someone?
To prevail on a claim of negligence plaintiffs must show: (1) duty owed to plaintiff by defendant; (2) breach of duty; and (3) compensable injury proximately caused by defendant’s breach of duty. For dog bites, the law is well settled that, in a dog bite case, the duty of reasonable care imposed upon a landowner who did not own the dog is measured by the landowner’s control or possession of the property and the landowner’s actual knowledge that the dog had dangerous propensities. The absence of either component will result in a finding for the landowner. As a general rule, in the absence of statute, covenant, fraud or concealment, a landlord who gives a tenant full control and possession of the leased property will not be liable for personal injuries sustained by the tenant or other persons lawfully upon the leased property. Thus, to the extent that a landlord has transferred control and possession of the premises to a tenant, it is the tenant who is liable when their dog bites a person, and the injured party has a cause of action against that tenant for the dog’s bite of that person.