Can a Open House Cost $56,628 ?

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Last Updated: May 4, 2021

“Mans Best Friend” may possibly cost the agent or seller lots of money.

You say how can this happen?


First lets look at some facts

An owner of a property has a legal responsibility to have a safe house. One where potential buyers can visit and walk around without getting injured.

An agent has limited responsibility to have a safe place when he invites potential buyers to view a home. If a potentially dangerous condition exist, then he should advise or warn his guest of the danger.

Dogs do bite people.

Even the gentlest of dogs may bite when their space is invaded, or a stranger appears in their territory, or when they’re scared or for a hundred other reasons.

  • Dogs bite 4.5 million people a year per American Veterinary Medical Association
  • 800,000 people receive medical attention for dog bites
  • 1 in 5 people bitten require medical care
Is it safe for your pets to move into your new home?

It’s just not dog bites that result in lawsuits and big payouts.

It is the friendly dog that jumps playfully on the small child or an elderly person with a cane.

Or, how about the dog that justs wants to play a little and he is running all around; then suddenly he accidentally trips someone.

Open House Sign

Here’s how it happens

A visitor to an open house trips or falls over the owners dog. Or the dog bites the potential buyer or family.


Once an open house visitor gets injured, there will be some that will sue.

Claims: Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, costing more than $530 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®.

California continued to have the largest number of claims in the U.S. at 1,867. Ohio had the second highest number of claims at 1,009. While New York had the third highest number of claims at 965, it registered the highest average cost per claim in the country: $56,628.

Statistics show that if some one gets bit or injured by a dog; for example at an open house, that it may cost $56,628. Possibly more, possibly less.

What do you do as an agent?

If holding an open house, and the seller has a dog, then it would be wise have a Risk Management Plan to Reduce Litigation.

Discuss with the seller that there should be a plan on what do with the pet during the Open House.

  • Explain that it would be best to have the dog gone from the property.
  • Sent to a friends house
  • Put in a Pet Hotel
  • Fenced in a special place not accessible to visitors



  1. Does your E & O policy cover you under these conditions?
  2. Does the sellers home owners insurance cover dog bites and also protect you? Some companies do, many don’t, and some companies exclude certain breeds of dogs.
  3. Does your office have recommended procedures when pets are present?

Have an “Open House” pet plan and educate your clients.

It is better to know the answers to the above questions now, before something happens, rather than be asking about them after something happens.

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This is very good material since we do currently live and work in an extremely litigious society.

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