Dog Clause Leases 270


A tenant's dog that injures someone can hurt the landlord or property owner too. There always is an issue when a tenant has a dog. The issue is whether the landlord knew about the dog, and how much was known about it. If the dog hurts someone, the tenant who doesn't have renters insurance can lie and say that the landlord was aware of the dog, which would shift the focus of the case to the landlord as the only one with insurance. Or the tenant could assert that the fence or gate was defective and claim that the landlord promised to fix it. 

For this reason, every residential lease with a dog-owning tenant needs a thorough, comprehensive "dog clause." A dog clause will dissuade and hopefully defeat an injury claim against the landlord or property owner. A solid "dog clause" will accomplish the following:

  • Clearly prohibit dogs other than service dogs
  • Establish that the landlord did not know that the dog was vicious
  • Prove that the tenant did not tell the landlord about any defect like a broken gate or fence
  • Require renter's insurance with proper terms and adequate coverage amounts
  • Establish reasonable guidelines for bringing new pets onto the premises
  • Make the tenant liable for damage by his pets and guests
  • Force the tenant to defend and indemnify against any lawsuits because of damage by his pets or his guests' pets
  • Enable the landlord to evict the tenant who has a dangerous animal of any kind


The Residential Lease Dog Clause can protect a landlord from dog bite claims, but is not a substitute for insurance, and like any legal agreement should be reviewed by your own attorney. Nothing can guarantee that you will not be sued or that you will win every case, but the Residential Lease Dog Clause can decrease the odds against you.