Does My Liability Insurance Cover A Tenant’s Dog Bite?

My tenant’s dog just bit someone. As a landlord, am I legally liable?

You are a landlord and you have a tenant who owns a dog. You learn that your tenant’s dog bit a child who was playing in the yard. Will you be legally liable? In Illinois, the Animal Control Act governs who is liable for a dog bite as well as when they are liable for a dog bite.

Renter’s Insurance

If your tenant has renter’s insurance, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to your tenant’s dog. Their insurance should cover any potential liability. But we all know few renters carry renter’s insurance. As an aside, it is a good idea to require a tenant to have renter’s insurance. If we have a client who was bitten by a dog and the owner has no insurance, we look to other potential defendants who may have insurance.

Landlord is a Potential Defendant When a Tenant’s Dog Bites Someone

You may assume that because the tenant owns the dog, not you, that you are not responsible for the dog bite. This would be a mistake. The Animal Control Act assigns liability to anyone who harbors a dog. This is broader than just mere ownership. Fortunately for landlords, there are many legal precedents which hold that merely renting to a tenant does not rise to the level of harboring a dog. But there have been some reported cases holding landlords liable for harboring a tenant’s dog.