Dog Bites and Landlord Liability

November 18, 2011

Dog Bites

dog bites and landlord liabilityIf you are bitten by a dog in Ohio, the dog’s owner, harborer, or keeper  will be held liable for any injuries and/ or damages caused by the dog excluding certain exceptions.  If the dog’s owner, harborer, or keeper owns his or her home, then he or she will most likely have homeowner’s insurance.  This insurance policy is the most common source of compensation for dog bite claims.  However, the source of compensation becomes somewhat uncertain when the dog’s owner, harborer, or keeper is a renter.  A renter’s insurance policy would no doubt offer coverage for any bite; however, most renters do not carry renter’s insurance.  A potential source of compensation in this situation may be the landlord.

Under Ohio law, a “harborer” is a person who controls the place where a dog lives.  At first glance, this definition would seem to include all landlords, however, this is not the case.  In Ohio, landlords are generally not responsible for damages caused by a renter’s dog.  The reason for this is that in most cases renters have exclusive possession and control of the property that they rent.  Therefore, the landlord is not the harborer of the renter’s dog because the landlord does not control the place where the dog lives.

One exception to this general rule is when the dog bite occurs in a common area of the rental property.  A common area could be anything from a shared yard to a shared hallway or anyplace where the renter does not have exclusive control and possession.  If the dog bite occurs in a common area then the landlord may be considered to be the dog’s harborer, because the landlord is deemed to have control of the common areas.  As such the landlord may be liable for any injuries and damages.

Another exception to the general rule is when a landlord knows that the renter’s dog is vicious and still allows the dog to remain at the property.  Under these circumstances, if the renter’s dog bites someone, some judges have found that the landlord can be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog bite or damages caused by the dog bite.

If you or someone you know has become the victim of a dog bite anywhere in Ohio, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE Consultation with an experienced Ohio dog bite lawyer or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

To learn more about your rights as a victim of a dog bite in Ohio, please visit

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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