Can Your Landlord Ban Guns?
On June 25, 2022, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun reform bill into law whose aim is to reduce the threat of gun violence across the country. Of course, gun control has long been a matter of debate, with those on one side calling for stricter laws and those on the other doubling down on Americans’ right to bear arms as stated in the Second Amendment.
But while the Second Amendment does establish certain rights, it doesn’t necessarily trump the rights of private property owners. And just as landlords have the right to put specific tenant rules in place in the context of smoking, noise-making and pet ownership, so too do they often have the right to bar tenants from keeping firearms in their homes.
Still, that doesn’t mean landlords can universally ban guns. As is the case with many other matters of the law, ultimately, landlords’ rights in this matter hinge on what their respective states have to say about it.
Of course, some tenants might argue that their Second Amendment rights are being violated. However, “a private landlord is not bound by the rules of the Second Amendment,” says Adam Leitman Bailey, a New York-based real estate attorney. “If a landlord bans a weapon in writing or in a lease before you move into a unit, then despite the Second Amendment of the Constitution, you cannot bring a weapon into a landlord’s property.”
To be clear, though, a landlord must put a firearms ban in a lease for that rule to be enforceable. If a lease is silent on the matter, then a landlord doesn’t have the right to tell a tenant they can’t have a gun in their home. That’s an important distinction, because, as Bailey says, New York leases generally do not mention guns one way or another.