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by Michael Johnston


hen it comes to leasing prop- erty, sometimes it’s inevitable

can result in significant injury. There- fore, virtually all dogs present some risk of harm. When renting a home to a tenant, a decision needs to be made as to whether dogs will be allowed at all on the property. Obviously, a rental property that allows for dogs is more marketable than one that does not. However, the landlord can be exposed to liability caused to third parties from animals that live at their rental property. To lessen that exposure, we suggest taking these precautions: 1. Make sure that fencing is in very good condition and that it forms a complete enclosure; 2. Exclude the more dangerous breeds, such as Pitbull Terriers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Mastiffs; 3. Require that the tenant main- tain tenant liability coverage that includes coverage for in- juries caused by animals, and make sure that the landlord is an additional insured under that policy; and

includes injuries caused by animals.

that legal issues will arise in the landlord-tenant relationship. Often, being well-informed can help ensure legalities don’t limit your investment earnings. Here is a common landlord question and advisable answer from an attorney’s point of view.

Having a pet is part of the home occupancy experience. For many peo- ple, their pet is a part of their family. However, as with almost anything, there is a risk of liability. The purpose of this column is to provide conceptual legal answers to questions that owners of residential rental property may have. Please un- derstand that any opinions set forth in this column are extremely gener- al. We strongly urge you to consult with your own attorney because real estate law varies from state to state and is always in a constant state of flux due to changes in statutory, regulatory, and case law. •

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A: Q:

Can I be held responsible for injuries caused by my

tenants’ animals?

Using the right property management firm can put more money in your pocket, not less. As the largest single-family-residence management company in North America REAL Property Management has more than 30 years of experience doing just that for our clients. There are many ways REAL Property Management can maximize your investment income and even help you with ways to set, and monitor, financial goals for your real estate. That’s the Real Difference.

There has been a surge of popularity for dog owner-

ship. Dogs are instinctive animals capable of inflicting significant injury or death; of course, their behavior is largely dependent upon their training. Hunting breeds will behave differently from herding breeds, for example. Some breeds will try to avoid encounters while others are fiercely protective of their territory. Some people do not realize that “friendly” breeds such as Golden Retrievers can also be dangerous to small children. The danger comes in that these breeds want to actively en- gage by jumping onto children, which

Michael Johnston has 39 years’ experience as a civil litigator and has represented property owners in numerous landlord/tenant cases. Mr.

Visit to learn how we can put our experience to work for you, giving you real commitment, real ROI and real peace of mind.

Johnston is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in the field of Civil Litigation as well as Consumer Law, which includes landlord/ tenant litigation. Mr. Johnston regularly serves as an arbitrator in consumer and commercial cases as well as insurance-related cases. He can be reached at (800) 771-6946 or

4. Make sure the landlord’s own liability insurance coverage

28 | think realty housing news report :: august / september 2019

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