Angry Dog

Angry Dog

Dependin on the demand you have generated for your Silicon Valley rental properties, you might not have an option to exclude tenants with pets.   In fact, according to a recent study by All Property management,  landlords who exclude pets suffer vacancy rates as much as 4% higher than those who don’t.  But allowing pets into your Silicon Valley rentals could also create liability problems.

For instance, if one tenant’s dog bites another tenant, you would likely face a law suit and possibly covering the damages for any injury to victims. In fact, dog bite incidents in large rental complexes are so frequent they’ve almost become a legal specialty.  While a dog’s owner is initially liable for the actions of his pet, the landlord and property manager could be named as defendants in these cases.

In fact, landlords may be on the hook if:

  • it is reasonable to assume that the property owner or property manager should have known that a tenant’s pet was vicious and did nothing about it, or
  • the property owner or property manager should have foreseen a problem and didn’t take care of it, such as by failing to maintain a fence that enclosed an animal

This means that if one of your tenants has a very aggressive dog breed, you might be well advised to require this tenant to obtain additional rental insurance with liability coverage. The liability coverage needs to list the landlord and the property manager as parties that are subject to the liability protection.

In most cases, the lawyers will come after the party which has the deepest pockets.  If a tenant who owns a vicious dog is of modest means and doesn’t carry sufficient renters insurance, lawyers will come after the property owner and property management company.  The time and money you will spend defending yourself as a property manage and owner will add up quickly.

So require liability insurance if your San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos and Saratoga renters have pets.  And speak with a lawyer to get advice on how to protect yourself and your tenants.