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As a Landlord, You May Be Liable for Tenants Dogs

Many landlords do not want to deal with the headache of allowing tenants to have dogs on the premises. One of the main reasons for this concern is the liability that may be imposed on a landlord should someone be injured by a dog owned by one of their tenants.

If a person is injured by a dog allowed to reside in a tenant’s home, and decides to exercise their rights covered under personal injury law, then the landlord can be in a world of trouble. In many cases, if a dog inflicts harm on another individual, the owner of that dog will ultimately end up being the one that is responsible. There are nuances to the law, however, that can impose liability on individuals other than the dog owner.

North Carolina Dog Law

North Carolina is a strict liability state when it comes to injuries caused by dogs. This means that a dog owner is responsible for any injuries caused by their dog, and for any damage that their dog causes to the property of another.

When it comes to landlord liability, the case of Holcomb v. Colonial Assoc. 358 N.C. 501, 597 S.E. 710 (2004) helped to extend liability to include not only dog owners, but landlords as well. In that case, it was determined that a landlord would be held responsible, along with the dog owner, for injuries sustained by an individual visiting the dog owner’s home. Specifically, when the dog attacked a contractor on the dog owner’s rental property.

The Court’s position was that a landlord can potentially be liable for injuries to third parties that occur on leased premises if the landlord has control of the leased premises. There is a presumptive duty that landlords owe to anyone who is occupying or utilizing the property over which the landlord exercises control.

Typically, in order to attach liability to a landlord, two elements must be present:

  1. The landlord knew that the dog was dangerous and had the opportunity to remove the dog before anyone else was hurt or an incident occurred.
  2. If the landlord exercised some form of control over the dog or cared for the dog.

Because of the dangers that are inherent in allowing tenants to have dogs on rental properties, many landlords this option and do not allow tenants to own pets.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, or you are a landlord and one of your tenants has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you need an experienced law firm representing your interests. Contact Campbell & Associates today for a free consultation with one of our expert lawyers.


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