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Senate File 2245 would prohibit a landlord of a dwelling unit or mobile home space from including in a rental agreement a provision that prevents a tenant from lawfully possessing or storing a firearm in the dwelling unit.

It also prevents a landlord from adding a provision that the tenant will pay a fee or higher rent, limit amenities offered or otherwise restrict due to the tenant’s lawful possession and storage of a firearm in the dwelling unit.

The bill passed through a Senate subcommittee on Thursday morning.

Richard Rogers of Iowa Firearms Coalition said it isn’t the group’s bill, but the group does support it.

“We understand the rights of landlords,” Rogers said. “We feel this is probably a reasonable step into that area to prevent discrimination of the sort that used to be common for other things — to keep the wrong sort of people out of our development. We do not want to demonize ownership of guns. People make a choice that they want to possess firearms for sport, for hunting, for self-defense — they have the right to do that.”

Brian Carter of the Iowa Conference of United Methodist Church asked about tenants going through stressful and hurtful situations where sometimes firearms are taken away.

“All of this will need to comply with current Iowa Code,” said Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig). “The same practices would apply. I don’t intend for this to be written or amended or to pass removing any of those. All we’re asking is that somebody who can legally possess can have it with them where they live. I just want to make somebody living in an apartment the same as somebody living in their house.”

Joe Kelly with Iowa Manufactured Housing Association asked if somebody has the lawful right to own or possess a gun whether the landlord has the right to say they cannot have it.

“I’m glad to see in the bill that the bill does not take away any of the features of clear and present danger law,” he said. “It’s very important for landlords to take quick action to provide safety for other tenants.”

Mike Triplett of the Greater Iowa Apartment Association said the bill is narrowly drafted, but offered some language to clarify some of the rights of the tenant as well as protections they believe landlords should have.

Triplett would like to see firearm possession prohibited from common areas such as laundry facilities and pool areas.

“We think that if this is tailored for someone to have in a dwelling unit, that’s fine,” he said. “Don’t take it to the pool with you, don’t take it to the laundry facility with you. Other tenants might not appreciate it. We have a duty to protect all tenants in our apartment complexes.”

He also wanted to ensure a property owner’s ability to restrict firearm possession for guests.

Tim Coonan of Iowa Manufactured Housing Association is registered undecided. He also represents Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and said he was just here to listen.

“We would not understand why people would have less rights than they otherwise would somewhere else,” he said. “In this case, Everytown doesn’t have an opinion. We didn’t consider this was something to even be a thing.”

Schultz asked if anyone in the room knew of any owners currently prohibiting firearms from dwelling units in Iowa. Andrew Lietzow of the Iowa Landlord Association said there is a company with 465 units that doesn’t allow guns.

Schultz was receptive to adding civil liability protection for landlords.

“I’m satisfied that current law can handle common areas,” he said. “I don’t believe this language has any requirement to common areas. We’re only asking for apartments in this one.”

Sen. Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford) said he agrees with the concerns over common areas. And, he also agrees that a tenant should have the right to possess their firearm in their dwelling unit.

Lietzow asked if landlords would be able to require tenants to let them know if they possess firearms in their dwelling units.

“I talked to three different landlords and they all said they should have a right,” he said. “Just like someone with an emotional support animal.”

“I think the level of protection in our country for support animals and firearms are greatly different,” Schultz said.

Afterward, Lietzow told The Iowa Standard he believes that if a landlord wants to declare a complex a gun-free zone, they should be able to do so.

Author: Jacob Hall