A landlord in South Florida who owns more than 1,200 units for rent has stated that all new tenants aged over 18 wishing to sign a lease for one of his properties must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The mandate also applies to existing tenants wanting to renew their lease.
The landlord, Santiago Alvarez, who owns eight apartment buildings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, is refusing to change the rule even with the prospect of city officials fining him for the mandate.
Alvarez told CNN he decided to put the mandate in place because 12 of his tenants have died from COVID since the pandemic began. As such, he’s also demanding that all of his employees get vaccinated.
“I think my decision was right and I will defend it any way I can,” he told CNN. “If I get fined, I will go to court with it.”
To date, two tenants have moved out and two employees have quit their jobs over Alvarez’s vaccine policy, he admitted.
Business Insider.com reported that Alvarez’s policy could well clash with that of the state government. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced a Florida Department of Health rule that bans the use of vaccine passports, which means people cannot legally be asked to show proof of vaccination as a condition of entry or service. Those who violate the rule face a fine of up to $5,000.
Another report, in The Hill, says at least one of Alvarez’s tenants has already filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Customer Services over the policy. Jasmine Irby, who filed the complain, told The Washington Post “I should not have to disclose my personal health information.”
Alvarez appears unmoved, although he did say he would make exceptions for tenants that have medical or religious exemptions. He also said he is willing to work with tenants that can’t provide of proof of vaccination but don’t have anywhere else to go. He said he’d consider offering people in that situation a month-by-month lease extension until they find a new place to stay.
“I don’t want to put them on the streets but I don’t want them to be a danger to my tenants or to my employees,” he said.