If my neighbor’s dog nearly attacked my dog today, can my landlord be foreced to erect a fence?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2012

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If my neighbor’s dog nearly attacked my dog today, can my landlord be foreced to erect a fence?

My neighbors have 2 pit bulls. They do not have a door into the fully fenced area of their yard so when they let them out of the house, they are free for a moment until the owner calls them into the fence. Today when my neighbor let them out my wife was in the back yard with our leashed dog. The neighbors dog made an agressive charge for my dog and crossed onto our property before being grabbed by its owner.My landlord stated he feels this is not his problem. However 1 of the 2 dogs has a history of bites and has gotten out before. Am I protect by any law?

Asked on March 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can't force the landlord to erect a fence.  If you are injured on the rental property, the landlord will be liable based on premises liability.

Since the neighbor's dog did not cause any injuries because it almost attacked, but did not actually attack, at this point you would not have a claim against the neighbor. 

If the neighbor's dog attacks in the future, you could sue the neighbor for both negligence and strict liability.  Negligence and strict liability would be separate claims (causes of action) in your lawsuit against the neighbor.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable dog owner would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  Strict liability is liability imposed whether or not due care was exercised.  Strict liability would be applicable because the neighbor's dog has a history of biting.  If the neighbor's dog did not have a history of biting, then only negligence would be applicable in a lawsuit against the neighbor.

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