The Colorado premises liability statute, § 13-21-115, C.R.S. 2004, is a dog bite victim’s only means of recovery in an action against a landlord. Wilson v. Marchiondo, 124 P.3d 837 (Colo. App. 2005); Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322 (Colo. 2004). In Wilson it was held that a landlord would be liable for the dog’s attack only if he actually knew, prior to entering into the lease, of the danger the dog presented. The following evidence was considered to be insufficient proof to make the landlord liable in that case:
- Landlord agreed to allow the dog to be kept on the premises.
- Landlord agreed that the tenant could place a “Beware of Dog” sign on the fence outside the house.
- Landlord knew the dog was a Rottweiler.
The court noted that there was no indication that prior to leasing, landlord observed or otherwise became aware of the dog biting anyone, attacking anyone, or demonstrating any vicious propensities. There was no proof that landlord came into contact with the dog prior to leasing. There was no proof that the landlord observed the dog with any frequency after the leasing (although this would not make a difference under the holding of the case).
After the tenants moved in with their dog, there was proof that the landlord came to the premises, observed the dog, asked the tenants to put the dog into a closed room when the painter was present, and agreed to erect a secondary fence to restrict the dog. Nevertheless, this evidence was not availing to the plaintiff because the court held that only a landlord’s pre-leasing knowledge of the dangerousness of a dog can make the landlord liable in this state.