Concealed Carry in Illinois
Under Illinois’ Firearm Concealed Carry Act, individuals, including your employees and tenants, now have the right to carry concealed firearms, subject to certain limitations. Regulators expect to issue thousands of concealed carry permits during the first quarter of 2014 which should prompt building owners and managers to consider their position on the issue. Rental property owners, along with other businesses, generally have the right to ban weapons on their property and the Act includes several provisions that directly affect landlords, rental property managers, and tenants.
A rental property owner or manager must decide whether they want to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on their property, common areas, and into their buildings. Landlords should consider:
? tenant safety: the right to bear arms to protect oneself vs. the right to live peaceably without fear of a concealed weapon on your neighbor in the laundry room.
? changes in insurance coverage and premiums: your insurance carrier may raise or lower your premium, or even require additional coverage, depending on whether you choose to allow or prohibit concealed weapons.
? liability for injuries or crime: Could there be potential liability in prohibiting concealed weapons since, it may be argued, such a policy creates a broader duty on the landlord to protect tenants and guests from a person who ignores the “no concealed carry” signage and injures someone? Or could a tenant claim a landlord liable if he is injured in his home and argues that the landlord’s prohibition of concealed firearms prevented him from defending himself? Or, by allowing the carry of concealed firearms, would a landlord be opening himself up to increased liability, under a theory of foreseeable risk, if the concealed firearm is used to commit a crime on the property?
? appeal of the property to your target tenant pool: depending on where your property is located, be it rural or urban, you may draw tenants who are more interested in carrying concealed weapons or those who do not support the idea. Knowing your target tenant demographic will aid you in deciding whether to allow or prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on your property.
? the difficulty of enforcing the policy you adopt: consider how you will enforce the policy you choose and whether your policy will require active enforcement by your employees.
Prohibiting Concealed Weapons on Rental Property
If you decide to prohibit concealed firearms on your rental property, and proper notice has been posted, then it is against the law for anyone to enter, or remain in the common areas of the building or on the grounds of the building after being asked to leave, while carrying a concealed weapon. “Proper notice” comes in the form of a clearly and conspicuously posted 4 x 6 inch sign, approved by the Illinois State Police, at the entrance of the property and/or building. To download a template of the approved sign for use, visit the Illinois State Police website at www.isp.state.il.us/firearms/ccw.
You should also consider whether the prohibition will apply to the entire building or just certain portions of the building, and if only certain areas are prohibited, how you will enforce that distinction. Of note, every building owner should be aware that there is a parking lot exception to the prohibition of concealed firearms. Building owners cannot prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons while the license holder is in a vehicle in the parking lot. Further, license holders may store their firearm in the vehicle while parked in the parking lot and carry the concealed weapon in the immediate area surrounding the vehicle for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving the firearm from the trunk. Therefore, your ability to restrict concealed weapons is limited to your building and common areas, and does not include the parking lot where tenants and guests park.
The Act leaves some interpretation for individual rental units as well. The Act states that an owner of private real property can prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on the property under his control and that the owner must post the necessary signage to prohibit concealed weapons, unless the property is a private residence. A tenant may have the right to keep a weapon in his rental unit, just the same as a homeowner has the right to keep a weapon, and only future litigation will hash out this issue. General consensus is that a rental property owner or manager can prohibit concealed firearms anywhere on the property, including individual units (but excluding parking lots), as long as the lease contains specific language that no concealed weapons are allowed in individual units, as well as common areas. Again, make policy decisions now so that current tenants can decide whether to renew under the new rules and all new leases will contain provisions in line with your decision.
Finally, if you decide to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms only in portions of your property, consider the repercussions of that policy. If concealed weapons are prohibited in the common areas, but allowed in individual units, how can the tenant transport the weapon from the parking lot, through the common areas, to his unit? Which right would trump? Enforcement may become a larger nuisance if you create only a partial prohibition.
Also, the Act is silent as to enforcement requirements of property managers and building owners. If a landlord prohibits concealed weapons and displays the required signage, is he obligated to actively enforce the policy? If so, how? Surely, a landlord cannot be expected to post an employee at every building entrance to inquire of all tenants and guests whether they’re “packing heat”? Or hire a security company to frisk everyone who enters the management office? These examples seem extreme, but the Act is unclear and until case law establishes some boundaries, landlords and rental property managers should evenly enforce a reasonable, written policy and incorporate that policy into all future leases and renewals. A practical, non-discriminatory policy in compliance with the Act, in conjunction with well-informed tenants and employees, is your best defense to claims of liability.