The controversy began after a Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in April that pit bulls were inherently dangerous. The court ruled that both the dog's owner and the property owner would be liable if a pit bull or pit bull mix attacked someone, even if the animal had exhibited no prior vicious behavior. The rule was later amended to only include pure bred pit bulls.
Of course this has both landlords and tenants up in arms. Many landlords have banned tenants with pit bulls from their properties because of the fear of liability for any attack.
Lawmakers are working to amend the ruling because of the outrage it has caused. A compromise, however, has not yet been reached between the State House and Senate.
This ruling is ridiculous. It's stereotyping an entire breed as dangerous because of the actions of a few. Furthermore, to hold a landlord liable if a dog attacks someone, even if the dog has no history of violence, is absurd. Landlords are a lot of things, but they are not fortune tellers. All they can do is properly screen the tenant as well as their animal to search for any previous issues. Landlords should be liable if they allow a knowingly vicious dog on their property, but not if they allow one that has no history of ill-behavior.Suggested Reading:
Handling Tenant Complaints About Pets
What if a Dog Bites a Tenant?
Landlord Liability for Dog Bites
Dealing With Barking Dogs and Pet Odors