Q: Being sued along with tenant for a dog attack. Am I responsible?
I'm a landlord in FL with a property in NY. The suit claims that my tenant's dog attacked a minor. It wasn't in the lease but we had verbally told the tenant that no pets are allowed. Am I still liable for the damages caused? What are our next steps?
A: There is no way to determine from your post if you are actually liable. However, it is important to appropriately respond to any litigation that has been commenced. If you have insurance, the first thing to do is notify your insurance carrier and it may assign counsel to represent you.
A: In terms of the landlord-tenant attributes of your question, there are knowledgeable landlord tenant attorneys here who are in the best position to advise. In terms of the personal injury attributes, a starting point could be to discuss the matter with your insurance carrier to determine if it would fall under a covered loss with your policy. Good luck
A: You’re in luck. Under current New York State case law, a dog bite victim can only hold someone liable who either owned or harbored the dog. In your fact scenario, the landlord did neither. He simply owned the building where a tenant resided who owned and harbored the dog. it is very unlikely that a court would hold the landlord liable under this fact pattern.
A: Whether you are responsible will depend on whether you had any notice that there was a dog on the premises and knowledge that the dog had vicious propensities (which would make its attack foreseeable). If you had no knowledge that the tenant had a dog, no less a vicious one, you would arguably not be legally responsible for any harm caused by the dog. https://casetext.com/case/strunk-v-zoltanski Best to report the matter to your homeowner's insurance and let them handle it.
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