Landlords: You CAN discriminate against Dog Breeds

Landlords CAN Discriminate Against Dog Breeds

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating any tenant based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability or familial status. However, it is within your rights as a landlord to decide what breed of pet is allowed to live on your property.

Why should landlords be concerned with the breed of dog a tenant owns? The Insurance Information Institute says about $479 million was paid by all insurance companies for dog bite claims in 2011. As a result, insurance companies are getting stricter about the terms of their coverage with homeowners and renters. Rates are increasing, and in some cases, coverage is being denied if certain breeds of dogs reside on a property.

Eleven dogs make up the list of “riskiest” by insurance standards: They are: Pitt bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canaries, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Wolf-hybrids.

Knowing that insurance companies are taking certain breeds more seriously than others, perhaps you should, too.
While some landlords and property managers make vague references to their pet rules, such as stipulating a “50lbs-and-under” rule, it might be in your best interest to include verbiage in your lease agreement about specific dog breeds. A pet deposit or weight restriction might not be enough to protect you from the difference in rising insurance costs, or even worse, the liability costs should the actions of the pet result in a claim.

For this and more information about screening tenants, what to include in your lease agreement, please visit our website and resources section.