Don’t Let Your Landlords Get Bitten

// September 5, 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a study conducted by the American Pet Products Association in 2018, 68% of U.S. households have a pet, and 60.2 million of the pets in those households are dogs. As pet ownership rates rise, many businesses are becoming pet-friendly — from restaurants and hotels to sports venues and even yoga classes.

Because of the increase in pet-friendly locations, landlords face an increase in the number of dog owners looking for rentals. Landlords need to be aware of their exposure and how they can protect themselves.

While it is rare that a landlord would be held liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s pet, it can occur. Make sure your customers who are landlords are protected with USLI’s Commercial Lines 1-4 Family Dwelling product. Landlords can also take precaution by doing the following:

  • Prohibiting tenants from having pets
  • Placing a provision on the lease agreement to limit exposure
  • Limiting the types of breeds allowed
  • Requiring the dog be registered with the state
  • Requiring the tenant to purchase their own liability coverage

It is also very important for landlords to ensure that tenants are responsible dog owners. Below are examples of claims where the landlord was held liable due to their knowledge of prior incidents:

  • In the case of Linebaugh v. Hyndman, a child was bitten by a tenant’s dog. The landlord was aware the dog had bitten someone before. The court stated that “a property owner cannot sit idly by in the face of the known dangers to others.” ( and
  • In the case of Alaskan Village v. Smalley ex rel. Smalley, a six-year-old girl was attacked by two dogs. The landlord was aware of prior attacks, so the court ruled that there was “blatant disregard of its tenants’ safety.” The jury awarded $235,000 in compensatory damages and $550,000 in punitive damages. (

In these instances, had the landlord taken action to have either the tenants or the dogs removed from the property, the outcomes may have been different. One way that USLI can help in the process of finding good tenants is by using discounted tenant screenings through our Business Resource Center.

Additional advantages of our Commercial Lines 1-4 Family Dwelling product include:

  • Defense coverage outside the limit
  • An expanded definition of bodily injury coverage that includes sickness or disease caused by mental anguish or emotional stress
  • No standard animal exclusion
  • The ability to consider risks with swimming pools, boat docks or slips
  • Per location aggregate coverage

Please contact your Commercial Lines underwriter for more information or a quote, or quote online today.


As always, thank you for your support and business.

Contact Stacey Friel
Second Vice President, Senior Underwriter – Travel | 888-523-5545, ext. 2079

Contact Sean Minnick
Underwriter – Home Office | 888-523-5545, ext. 2836

Written by Meghan Ritter
September 5, 2019