When a Landlord Rents a to House With No Fence to a Tenant With a Dog and the Dog Bites, is the Landlord Liable?

January 27, 2016 10:21 pm Published by

Lundy v. California Realty, 170 Cal.App.3d 813, 216 Cal. Rptr. 575 (1985)

Is a landlord if he rents out a property with no fence and allows a dog to be kept, and the dog bites someone?

No. Unless the landlord knows the dog is vicious and has propensity to bite, the landlord is not liable.

When a Landlord Rents a to House With No Fence to a Tenant With a Dog and the Dog Bites, is the Landlord Liable?

No. Unless the landlord knows the dog is vicious and has propensity to bite, the landlord is not liable.

FACTS

Property owners owned an unfenced house at 927 North Beverly Street in Corona, California. On August 5, 1979 defendant Kruger rented the property to Rhoda Mary Graves and her family on a month-to-month basis terminable with 30 days notice by either party. The rental agreement provided that no animal should be kept on or about the premises without prior written consent except for the tenant’s Dog Named Thunder.

The Graves took possession of the property. The dog was kept in the house or usually chained to a tree in the backyard of the property. Whether or not he was so chained on the date and at the time of the attack was disputed.

Defendant property owners had no knowledge about the dog. None of them had seen the dog nor visited the property after it was rented to the Graves. They had not received any complaint of any kind concerning the dog.

On October 6, 1981 plaintiff, a field engineer for a cable television company, was doing a survey of existing utility poles in preparation for the installation of cable television lines in the area. He entered onto the property at 927 North Beverly Street for the purpose of observing and recording information about a power pole at the rear of the property. He first knocked at the front door of the house, but no one answered. There was no fence on either side of the house to prevent or obstruct access to the backyard and plaintiff did not see anything indicating there was a dog. There were no signs posted concerning the presence of the dog. The dog came out barking and growling and plaintiff jumped over the neighbors fence head first. Plaintiff suffered compression fractures to his back.

COURT’S OPINION

Defendant property owners did not have a legal duty to plaintiff to do any of the things plaintiff asserts they should have done. An owner of a dog may be held liable for injuries inflicted by it on another person without any showing the dog had any especially dangerous propensities or that the owner knew of any such dangerous propensities. However to impose liability on someone other than the owner, even a keeper, “`previous knowledge of the dog’s vicious nature must appear.
Here defendant property owners knew nothing whatever about the dog. There is nothing in the facts indicating defendant property owners knew either the dog’s size or age.

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This post was written by Orange Dog Bite Attorney

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