face-off / buzz ::
ONE QUESTION, TWO IREM MEMBERS
DO YOU THINK OWNERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO RESTRICT GUN
POSSESSION IN APARTMENT COMMUNITIES?” “
JO ANNE CORBITT, CPM
VICE PRESIDENT, PROPERTY
NASHVILLE, TENN. yes
MCBRIDE, WILLIAMS &
As a crusader for private property rights, my short answer is, “YES!!” But this is a matter that deserves and
requires much a more in-depth study.
Residents, as well as prospects, expect a certain level
of safety when leasing at a given property. They are concerned about illegal or unacceptable activities.
Property owners are concerned about liability from
residents, guests, employees, vendors and anyone else
stepping foot onto the property—with or without permission.
We all know that if it happens on your property,
courts of public opinion, as well as the judiciary look
to landlords as the cold, money grabbers who must, in
return, protect everyone from everything—including
So, what’s the most effective, efficient and/or logical
way(s) to protect the landlord’s rights and avoid increasing his/her liability?
•;Have a “no firearms” rule or policy, except for sworn
officers of the law.
•;Include or exclude someone who has a legal “right to
•;Post signs in all of the common areas with guns in a
red circle with a slash through it.
•;Hire security guards or install metal detectors.
•;Put “unapproved possession of a fire arm” in your
lease as a non-monetary default.
•;Figure out a way to address rifles and/or shotguns
used for hunting.
•;What if you do nothing proactively to limit the number, types of fire arms on the premises?
Exploration of each of these items (and many more) is
warranted for each property. Remember—it’s the landlord’s property which entitles him/her to make the rules.
Doing so without increasing liability is the challenge.
The preponderance of evidence indicates that landlords
may have the authority, but not the ability, to restrict
residents from possessing guns on their rental properties. Gun owners are not a protected class. In qualifying
a prospect, we could reject a gun owner, but why do it?
What if the gun owner is a doctor, a lawyer, a CPM,
etc.? Can we afford to turn away potentially excellent
tenants? And how do we make sure the question of gun
ownership is answered honestly?
Posting signs declaring a property is “gun restricted” is a magnet for burglars. It may imply a promise of
safety that is not intended and not possible, but fodder
for litigation if a shooting incident occurs on the site. I
would rather post a sign that says, “More ex-navy seals
and ex-army rangers live here than at any other property
in town.” Unfortunately, it also implies an unachievable
level of safety for all residents, and also leaves ownership
open to litigation.
Guns do not fire on their own. The more important
question is, “can we eliminate the abusers?” Government at all levels is gridlocked on the solution to gun
deaths. Taking firearms away from citizens who are
obeying anti-gun legislation puts those citizens at the
mercy of criminals who use guns to assist them in stealing, raping, murdering, etc.
Once arrested for massacres, the “alleged” miscreants
hide behind insanity defenses and refusals to shave off
beards to forestall and hopefully avoid appropriate punishment. Prompt trials for accused felons, followed by
prompt execution of convicted felons who use a gun in
perpetrating a major crime, would be a good start.
Refusing housing to an unidentifiable, potential perpetrator of gun violence is not a solution to the protection of our tenants. It is a fool’s errand for any owner or
property manager to attempt it.