Home > Should Landlords Impose Gun Restrictions on their Tenants? Can They?
Leasing Issues

Should Landlords Impose Gun Restrictions on their Tenants? Can They?

by Editor | ezLandlordForms

Should landlords ban guns in rental properties?No one can agree where the government should draw the line on gun control while still observing Second Amendment rights. But can landlords draw their own line, banning guns in their rental properties and apartment communities?

On the surface it would appear obvious that tenants do have the right to firearms, as afforded to them and every other citizen by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Advocates argue that all citizens, whether tenants or homeowners, have a right to possess firearms and keep them in their home.

But opponents contend that the Second Amendment does no such thing; instead, it speaks only to what the government can and cannot restrict regarding private citizen’s rights to bear arms. Landlords, as owners of private property, would therefore be entitled to decide what types of hazardous items they allow into their properties (after all, 150-lb. bombs are “arms”, but no landlord would knowingly allow one into their properties).

This is one area seldom addressed in lease agreements, and doing so does require an understanding of state laws. For landlords who dare address gun restrictions at all, doing so could violate state laws – currently Virginia, California and Minnesota prohibit “NO GUNS” clauses in lease agreements. Some other states have limited restrictions on landlords, and other states do not address it at all.

Consider the case of tenant Aaron Alexis, who “accidentally” shot through the ceiling of the apartment below him. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the story could have been a very different one. Aaron Alexis was later identified as the perpetrator of the recent Navy Yard shooting where 13 people were murdered.

As a hypothetical example, who would be liable had Mr. Alexis gone on a shooting spree at his apartment building rather than the Navy Yard? Clearly, Mr. Alexis would have been incarcerated if captured alive, but could the landlord or property manager have had any liability (particularly if the shooter had not been captured alive, and the public still thirsted for vengeance)?

Personal gun control views aside, landlords and property managers do have a certain amount of responsibility to ensure the safety of their tenants and neighbors. Fortunately, they have options, beyond simply banning firearms on-premises. Landlords might consider the option of requiring tenants with firearms to obtain gun liability insurance, to protect themselves against lawsuits and legal liability in the event an accident or other tragedy takes place.

But every landlord or property manager, regardless of their opinion of guns, should run criminal background checks on all rental applicants. From gun charges to sex offenses to violent behavior such aggravated assaults, a comprehensive criminal history report will help prevent dangerous tenants from moving into the community.

Landlords should also ask rental applicants whether they own a gun, and if so, what model(s). They can then require insurance, or look even more closely into past transgressions appearing on the applicant’s criminal record.

What are your views on whether firearms should be allowed in rentals? Are guns/firearms addressed in your lease agreements at all? What do you think of requiring gun owners to obtain insurance?

Related Articles

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify Of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x