The topic of pet restriction is an emotional one that most property owners are not excited about having. However, it’s a really important subject that must be clearly understood and enforced. Failing to fully plan for and decide which breeds are allowed on the property can potentially open you or your homeowners association up to liabilities.
Dog Breeds and Insurance
The first step in understanding pet restrictions is getting clear on why they are important in the first place. For example, almost a third of liability claims made against homeowners insurance are due to dog bites. The number of bites and the breeds of the dogs, as well as their costs to policyholders, are tracked by insurance companies.
This is why certain dog breeds are often excluded from coverage for dog bites with insurance carriers. One tenant failing to comply with the breed restriction can result in claims not being paid in the event of an attack. This means that landlords can ultimately be held responsible, as insurance companies can claim they should have known about the dog on the property and not allowed it—or did know and ignored it.
Most Commonly Restricted Breeds
Rottweilers and pit bulls have been reported as responsible for almost two thirds of deaths related to dogs from 1979 to 1988, according to the Center for Disease Control. Huskies, German shepherds, boxers, and Great Banes were also held responsibility for attacks during that time.
It doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed is dangerous, but it helps in understanding why insurance companies are hesitant to include coverage for them—and why property owners should also be cautious.
Another difficult topic related to dog restrictions is the handling of mixed breeds. What if you have a tenant with a dog that is a mix of breeds, including one of those that is excluded from insurance and thus not allowed on your property? Do you allow the dog or deny the tenant if they keep the dog? It’s important to clearly define your standards and have them in writing. You’ll also want to look to local laws in your city to be sure you aren’t ignoring any restrictions on that end.
The best takeaway is to be prepared in handling the issue so you can avoid potentially harrowing legal fees that could have otherwise been avoided with some planning, consideration, and tenant screening.