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Can A PA Landlord Be Held Liable If A Tenant’s Dog Bites Another Tenant?



*Updated 10/28/2015

In general, Pennsylvania dog owners may be held liable for injuries to another person caused by their dogs.  PA dog owners will be found liable if they did not keep their dogs under reasonable control.  Parties other than the owners may also be held responsible depending on the circumstances.  Below is a question about whether a landlord may be held liable for a tenant’s dog bite injuries caused by another tenant’s dog.

Question: I rent and live on the 2nd floor of a home in Philadelphia.  The tenant on the 1st floor owns a dog.  The home has a fenced in backyard, and the dog owner often lets the dog out in the yard. About a month ago, as I was getting out of my car which was parked in front of the home, I saw the dog running toward me.  I got inside my car until the owner got the dog.  Apparently, the lock on the gate of the fence in the backyard was broken, and the dog was able to get out.  I told the landlord about the broken gate and how the dog got out and charged at me.  A couple of weeks ago, as I was getting out of my car, the dog jumped me from behind and attacked me.  I now have severe bite injuries on my arms.  The dog was in the yard again, but got out because the lock was still not fixed.  Since the landlord knew about the broken lock, can I sue the landlord as well as the dog owner?

Answer:  In certain situations, you may be able to sue the landlord for your dog bite injuries, and the landlord may be held liable for the tenant’s dog.  However, it depends on the following factors:

  • whether the landlord is "in possession," or occupies an office or lives on the rented premises,
  • whether the landlord is "out of possession," or does not occupy any portion of the rented premises, or
  • whether the landlord knew of the dangerousness of the tenant's dog.

Under Pennsylvania law, out of possession landlords will be held liable for a dog bite or attack of a tenant, if the landlord knew of the dangerousness of the dog and had the right to control the rented premises.  Assuming that your landlord is an out of possession landlord, he/she may be liable for your dog bite injuries because you informed him/her about the broken gate and how the dog got out and charged at you prior to this attack.

However, we need all of the facts to properly evaluate your case.  There may be facts which weigh in favor of the landlord.  For instance, if the landlord told the 1st floor tenant not to use the backyard because he had to fix it and the tenant let his dog in the backyard anyway, the landlord may not be liable. 

Related: PA & NJ Dog Bite Attack Lawyer Discusses Victims' Financial Compensation After An Attack

Help After Being Injured in a Dog Bite or Attack
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a dog bite or attack in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact our dog bite personal injury lawyers. We have represented many dog bite victims against the owners, landlords and others. FREE consultations.  877.944.8396

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. 

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