Dog Bite Laws: What Renters Need to Know

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Whether on a tree-lined street or in an apartment in the city, the threat of a dog attack is becoming more likely. The influx of aggressive dogs in rental housing has increased over the past years, either due to negligence of the landlord in assessing the nature of their tenants’ dogs or due to the tenants’ failure to train and monitor their pets. Data that has been collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that there are almost 4.5 million dog bite victims in the U.S. each year.  The vast majority of canines will never bite someone seriously enough to break the skin. However, that does not mean that you can be careless in dealing with unfamiliar dogs. Disclaimer: This is not intended to act as legal advice. Please seek a legal professional to assess your particular situation and advise you accordingly.

The reality is that each and every animal could bite a person under any circumstance. If you’re a pet owner, this could cause you serious legal, financial, and emotional consequences, including the possibility of your beloved pet being quarantined or put down. Alternately, as a potential dog bite victim, you could be in for a painful event. Fortunately, there are several steps both parties can take to help reduce your risk.

Tips for Avoiding Dog-Related Legal Issues

State laws usually stipulate that any person who is legally visiting a private or public area can take legal recourse if bitten by a dog. In other words, if someone is visiting next door and is wounded by your pet (without provoking the attack), they would be able to sue you for all of the damages that they suffer.

Dogs that become classified as dangerous animals can be seized depending on their actions, and their owner will also face the possibility of fines and jail time. Some renters mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover them, but this is not the case. The following are a few easy tips to protect yourself and your 4-legged companion:

1. Keep Your Landlord in the Loop – Renting a house comes with some responsibilities, including the fact that you need to ensure that all of your pets are legally allowed per the lease. This will protect you from being forced to make a decision between your pet and an eviction in the future, and it will also help your landlord stay safe when they visit the property. Make sure that you remind your landlord that you have a dog on the premises whenever they schedule a maintenance appointment. This level of open communication will dramatically reduce the risk of any unwanted incidents.

 2. Always Spay or Neuter Your Pets – Research indicates that most dog bites can be linked to an animal that was not spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, making the decision to skip this important medical procedure will result in a higher level of aggressive tendencies that can easily lead to an attack on a person or another animal. The ASPCA favors spaying, stating “unspayed females sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Spaying your dog can also eliminate the possibility of hormonally driven guarding behavior.”

3. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended – Some people think that it’s okay to stake their dog outside, but the truth is that this practice will make you much more likely to end up being liable for another’s injuries. If you do not have a fenced-in area for the dog to play, you will need to be with them at all times, and always keep them on a leash. Another factor for not leaving a dog tethered in an open area is that it could arouse an attack from another animal – potentially leading to a child or person being subject to harm in the frenzy of such a fight.

4. Focus on Proper Socialization and Training – Dogs might be touted as “man’s best friend,” but this does not mean that each of them is born prepared to live up to this title. You need to spend the proper amount of time training your pet and socializing them with other people. If you do so, they will respond in a gentler manner to future encounters with individuals who are not part of your immediate family.

Owning a dog is a large responsibility, so before you choose your favorite breed, do your research to figure out whether you are able to handle that breed’s tendencies. For example, huskies get separation anxiety, so that might not be the best choice for someone who works long hours. Similarly, border collies are high-energy dogs, which may not be suitable for small enclosed apartments especially if you are unable to provide them with the exercise they require. Also, be sure to plan on making the time and having finances available to invest in their proper upbringing. Fortunately, following these tips will make your pet much more likely to live a long and happy life without any violent incidents. As an added bonus, demonstrating a commitment to your dog via appropriate veterinary records and a good rental history will make future landlords more willing to accept you as a tenant prospect.

Photo Source: https://flic.kr/p/egemmZ

 

Pros and Cons of Renting an Apartment

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While there are those who see renting as simply wasting money, there are certain benefits to renting an apartment versus purchasing a home, condo or townhome. And just as there are advantages, renting does have its disadvantages as well. If you’re looking at renting an apartment, take a look at this list of pros and cons to help you decide whether renting is right for you and your family.

Pros

  1. Amenities and other added features. Many renters of apartments enjoy such options as swimming pools, exercise facilities, tennis courts, game rooms and even movie theaters. If you’re searching for an apartment to rent, make sure to ask about what amenities the apartment complex or community has to offer, and whether usage of these facilities is included in the rent.
  2. Maintenance and repairs. Unlike homeowners, renters have the luxury of having someone else take care of all those pesky little things that can go wrong – from broken appliances, leaky faucets, clogged toilets, and major repairs like cracks in the wall, or a broken water or heat pump, renting means that the landlord has to take care of these repairs and also offer regular maintenance. Larger complexes and apartment communities even offer a special department just for repairs and maintenance. Those who rent apartments also don’t have to worry about snow removal or yard maintenance.
  3. Freedom and mobility. Many people who rent apartments do so because of relocation due to their jobs, to be closer to family (due to caring for a sick parent, etc.), or wanting to live in a better neighborhood than they can afford if they would have to purchase a home. Renting an apartment makes it a lot easier to move than if you owned a house; you would have to wait until the house sold before moving to wherever you need to go. However, with an apartment, you can give appropriate notice to the landlord and then move without too much hassle or long wait time.
  4. Lower initial costs and fees. Compared to the amount of money you have to dish out when you first purchase a home, renting is definitely less expensive in the beginning. Renters usually pay a few hundred dollars for a security deposit, whereas those who are buying a house can pay thousands of dollars upfront in a down payment.
  5. Save money. Especially in a down economy, renters can save money when home values are plummeting. Even though it would make sense to purchase a home when the prices are low, if you wait until the values are getting ready to rise, you can save money in the long run.
  6. Smaller space, less hassle. Many renters seek to rent an apartment due to downgrading from a larger home, and find that a smaller space is easier to maintain. Seniors, empty nesters, singles and college students can all benefit from renting a small- to medium-sized apartment, giving them the advantage of having to take care of less space.
  7. Location. Ultimately, many people who rent apartments do so because it’s located in a particular area or neighborhood where they can’t afford to buy a home (or there just aren’t many homes available for sale). Whether the area is close to a job, a good school, or near family, many people find that renting is just a better option, especially if the housing market or economy is in a downward slump.
  8. Taxes and insurance. Renters don’t have to worry about real estate taxes, and the only insurance they need is renter’s insurance, which is much cheaper than homeowner’s insurance. There are no taxes for renters, but homeowners sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars a year in different taxes (such as property taxes, state and county taxes, school taxes, and local taxes).

Cons

  1. Parking. Many renters have problems with parking, especially if their apartment is located in a busy area of the city. Paying to park is a perpetual expense, and if your landlord has no designated area for parking, then you have to find a spot on your own, often quite a distance away depending on the area and how busy it is. This is a definite con for many of those who are looking to rent an apartment, especially in major metro areas.
  2. Decorating. If you love to personalize your living space, especially with lots of bold paint colors, many renters find that they are not able to decorate to their liking, since many landlords will not let their renters paint walls, or do any heavy decorating projects like you can in your own home. Decide if this is a deal-breaker for you when choosing to rent or not. Even if you do have a lenient landlord, make sure you first ask for permission to make the changes you desire. If you thoroughly enjoy home renovation projects and prefer to spend your free time working on decorating your home, renting may not be the best option for you.
  3. Pets. There are numerous landlords and property managers out there that don’t allow pets of any kind, the majority of restrictions being on dogs and cats. Landlords are generally under the impression that these types of pets will destroy their property, no matter how well mannered they may seem. If you have pets, you might have a hard time finding a rental, therefore making your search a longer and more cumbersome one. Also, landlords who do allow pets always want a pet deposit upfront, making the expense of renting a bit higher.
  4. Noise. If you like a quiet environment, then renting an apartment may not be for you, since many apartments might have loud neighbors and/or thin walls. Many renters have to deal with noisy neighbors, barking dogs, parties, etc., while living in an apartment. You may want to think of an alternative if you really need peace and quiet where you live.
  5. Rule enforcements. One of the most disconcerting reasons that many tenants move out of their apartments is living in a complex where rules were not enforced as they should be. The landlord may have “special” or favored residents who break rules and get away with anything, while the other tenants are forced to maintain those rules or get in trouble. There really is no way to know if a landlord may favor certain residents over others, so you always run the risk of renting a property where you may be treated unfairly compared to other tenants.

Regardless of what the pros and cons may be, you may sometimes have no choice but to rent an apartment. You can make the best of any situation by searching for your perfect rental unit based on your own lifestyle – pet-friendly or kid-friendly or just in a fantastic neighborhood that suits all your wants and needs! To find your perfect rental, go here.