Tenant Gun Ownership

Can Landlords Prohibit Gun Ownership?

Much of the country is divided in their stance on gun control. As a landlord or property owner you have a right to set many rules regarding your rental property, but can landlords include a clause in your lease agreement that prohibits a tenant from having a gun?

The short answer is: it depends on your state laws. Having a dog is not a Constitutional right, but owning a gun is. Therefore, some states have passed specific laws stating that a landlord cannot take away a tenant’s right to bear arms. For example, Minnesota law says, “A landlord may not restrict the lawful carry or possession of firearms by tenants or their guests.”

However, if the state doesn’t have specific laws then a landlord can make whatever prohibitions they want, so long as it doesn’t violate the Fair Housing Laws. Gun owners are not a protected class of people, so it would not be considered discrimination if you were to exclude them from your pool of tenant applicants.

If you are opposed to letting residents have guns on property and it is not illegal in your state, then you could include this stipulation in your initial lease agreement. However, the challenge would be policing it. It’s a lot easier to prove someone is harboring undocumented tenants or a dog then it is to prove they have a gun hidden in a locked safe.

Another question to ask: If you allow guns on your rental property, could you get sued if someone were injured as a result? To avoid this, you should consider including verbiage in your lease agreement specifying that if tenants possess firearms they must agree to practice safe handling, possession and storage guidelines of the weapon. Also, your lease should state that the landlord will not be liable for accidents that happen due to negligence of the tenant.

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