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Pennsylvania Dog Bite Law Update : Landlord Liability for Dog Bite or Attack at a Rented Premises

Just last month, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld dismissal of a claim against a landlord in a dog bite case. Rosenberry v. Evans is a case in which a 10 year old boy was bitten in the face by a dog. The dog had a tic which caused it to clench its teeth in a biting motion.

The plaintiff sued the dog owner, alleging that the tic caused the dog to bite the boy. The plaintiff also sued the owner's landlord, claiming that the landlord was in control of the premises and knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities. The Superior court found in favor of the landlord and dismissed the case because there was no evidence that the landlord had any knowledge of the dog’s tic.

This court decision underlines the current status of the law in Pennsylvania with respect to landlord liability for a tenant’s dog or animal. Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord can be held liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog in limited situations, especially if the landlord is “out of possession.”

An out of possession landlord is one who does not occupy any portion of the premises. In other words, the tenant has complete control of the rented premises.  An out of possession landlord could be liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s animal if the landlord has knowledge of the animal’s dangerousness.  The bottom line is whether the landlord knew about the animal’s dangerousness.  

The following factors can prove that a landlord had such knowledge:

  • the landlord previously witnessed the dog acting aggressively,
  • the landlord previously witnessed the dog chasing people, and
  • the landlord received prior reports of the dog’s aggressiveness or dangerous issues involving the dog.


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If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a dog attack in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, contact our injury and dog bite lawyers. Our firm spares no expense in the prosecution of these kinds of cases. 877.944.8396

*Disclaimer: This website does not provide any legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Each case is unique and requires review by a qualified attorney. Discussion of any prior outcomes or results is no guarantee of the same or similar outcome in current or future cases.

Published: May 19, 2012


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