I allow tenants to have dogs at some of my properties, but I don't allow pit bulls or rottweilers, and I don't know of any landlord who does. The reason is liability. Landlords are not really free to do as they please. Landlords have to abide by the rules of their insurance companies. Most insurance companies will not sell liability insurance on a rental property if they know there are pit bulls or rottweilers on the premises. If an insurance company becomes aware of the fact that there are pit bulls or rottweilers living at a property that they already insure, they may cancel the policy. (Yes, insurance companies can do that.)

Why do insurance companies ban pit bulls and rottweilers?

  • Dog bites are the single biggest cause of homeowner policy claims. In 2011, dog bite claims cost U.S. insurance companies over $500 million.

  • According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, a Federal agency, over 50% of all fatal dog attacks in the U.S. over the past 10 years were committed by pit bulls or rottweilers. Another study by the American Veterinary Medical Association came to the same conclusion.

  • Only 2% of all the dogs in the U.S. are pit bulls, but pit bulls commit 1/3 of all fatal dog attacks.

  • 50% of all dog mauling cases reported to the San Francisco Police Department involve pit bulls.

  • When someone is mauled by a dog in an apartment house, it is now standard procedure for the victim to sue both the dog's owner and the landlord. Lawyers representing the victims in these lawsuits argue that it is common knowledge that pit bulls and rottweilers are dangerous; therefore, the landlord was negligent by allowing a tenant to keep one of these dogs in his building. Increasingly, the victims are winning these lawsuits.

    My advice to anyone who is thinking about getting a dog is this: If you want to rent an apartment in an urban area, don't get a pit bull or a rottweiler. You could have a very hard time finding a landlord who will rent to you. A landlord can't do business without insurance, and if his insurance company says: "No pit bulls or rottweilers," then the matter is really out of his hands.

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