Can Landlords Limit Their Tenants’ Right to Bear Arms?

| May 21, 2013 More

Can Landlords Limit Guns in Their Rentals?By Tracey March

Every day in our country about 289 people are shot, some deliberately and some by accident. A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure someone in a domestic murder, suicide, or accident than to be used in self-defense. (From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.)

Given these troubling statistics, many landlords and property managers have been wondering if their property rights allow them to limit gun ownership in their rental properties without violating the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The answer is yes. The Second Amendment is a limit on government power, not a limit on private citizens. And if a private citizen landlord wants to ban guns in his or her rental properties, there is no Second Amendment violation.

Gun owners who are told they can no longer keep their guns may claim they are being discriminated against, but they will find no support in fair housing laws as gun owners are not considered a protected class under those rules.

However, if you do want to limit or prohibit firearms on your rental property, implementing and enforcing those policies could be difficult. Landlord tenant law requires you to wait until the end of each tenant’s lease and include the limit or ban in the new lease or in a set of House Rules that your tenants sign when they renew.

And what if you suspect your tenants are keeping a firearm in a rental unit, in violation of your established policy? You might have a hard time verifying that a gun is being stored on the premises because state privacy laws may prevent you from doing an inspection. However, if you do have proof of a violation, and your tenants have agreed in the lease to abide by your policy, you can initiate an eviction.

Finally, a limited number of states, like Minnesota, have enacted laws that prohibit landlords from limiting tenants from owning firearms, so if you are thinking about limiting or banning firearms on your rental property, make sure that doing so won’t violate your state’s laws.

As always, the information provided here is just that–it is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have any particular questions or issues, please consult an attorney.

Category: Landlord/Tenant Law, Lease Agreements, Property Management, Tenants

Comments (12)

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  1. Nice job on this article.

  2. Byron Winchell says:

    I have to admit, life is fragile, and walls are thin.

  3. Tracey March says:

    Thanks Michael. It’s definitely a controversial subject, but no matter where you stand it’s always good to know the law, and your rights and obligations, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant. Thanks for sharing :-)

  4. Tracey March says:

    Byron, I have a friend who was almost hit by a bullet coming through a wall from the inside to the outside of her house, where she was playing. The gun had been accidentally fired by her mother. Walls, most certainly, are thin.

  5. I see that your “source” for the “22 times more likely” is the hardly neutral Brady Campaign.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that by placing themselves in the spotlight, landlords who demand outrageous limits on their tenants open themselves up to a huge amount of negative press. We gun owners are not friendly to those who would try to limit our rights. We are especially not friendly to those who would demand that the poorest among us be either disarmed and helpless or tossed out on the street.

    It’s an especially vile sort of person who would disarm a potential victim making her attacker’s job easier.

  6. Bill Collins says:

    I am not an expert on the law, but I wonder if landlords would be able to apply the same restrictions on the other consititutional rights? Consider the first amendment. Could a landlord stipulate that a tenant may not get on the Internet to speak their mind on a blog? What if a woman wants to get an abortion, but the contract states that they are not allowed? Are there limits to how our consititutional rights and settled law may be curtailed by a contract?

  7. apmadmin says:

    Interesting study from the Journal of the American Medical Asso. on the correlation between firearms in the home, accidental deaths, children’s deaths and suicides: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=200330

  8. Sandy Adams says:

    I’m not an attorney, but I believe requiring a tenant to waive his constitutional right to lawfully own a gun could be unenforceable. As concerning as it is, the statistics on harm or death caused by guns doesn’t change a citizens legal right to own a gun under the Second Amendment.

  9. Tracey March says:

    The second Amendment limits government power. It does not limit private citizens or the decisions they make about their property. A landlord (who is a private citizen) can limit guns on his or her property. Whether or not he or she wants to is a different matter.

  10. Tango says:

    This information is not correct in all states. In Utah, for example, landlords are specifically outlawed from restricting lawful firearms possession by the tenants.

    Also, the Kellerman study is cherry picking stats that say whatever Kellerman wanted them to say. It’s been debunked time and time again.

  11. Richard LeDoux says:

    I am a landlord and a huge supporter of the 2nd amendment. A landlord does not have the right tell citizens what to do about gun ownership.
    He may ask that his tenants take a safety class and have a gun safe. I think that is reasonable.

  12. Tracey March says:

    The last paragraph mentions that some states,such as Minnesota, specifically prohibit landlords from limiting firearms.

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