A Florida landlord is demanding all new and existing tenants show proof of vaccination to reside in his buildings. The Hill reports that Santiago Alvarez, who owns eight apartment complexes with a total of 1,200 units in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, is requiring renters to provide proof of at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before renewing their lease, as of August 15. The 80-year-old landlord survived Covid-19 earlier this year and claims that he lost two friends and 12 of his residents to the virus.
Alvarez reportedly told the Washington Post, “It very much upsets me that my employees are exposed to [covid-19] all days of the week because there is someone who does not want to get vaccinated. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I have the obligation and the duty to protect my workers and tenants.” Alvarez also stated, “You don’t want to get vaccinated? You have to move. It’s a lack of consideration for your neighbor; it’s a lack of consideration to their own families, to their children.” He will, however, make exceptions for those who decline to get vaccinated for religious or medical reasons. According to the Post, he also stated that he would give long-term residents extra time to receive their first vaccine dose.
Jasmine Irby, 28, a renter, has filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. According to the Post, Irby stated that she should be entitled to renew her lease “without having to disclose my personal health information.” Irby’s lawyer wrote to Alvarez, claiming that his policy was in breach of an executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis barring companies from requiring vaccination as a condition of entry. However, Alvarez contends that his policy does not violate the governor’s order because that order is made for “customers or patrons” rather than tenants.
DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw stated in an email to The Hill, “The law is very clear. He cannot require vaccine passports as a condition of entry. Each violation of the law will result in a $5000 fine.” Pushaw also said that transmission of the virus can still occur between vaccinated people and that “the idea of requiring vaccine passports is unscientific and will not achieve lower cases. Without mandates, cases are dropping rapidly in Florida on their own.”
The news from Florida follows an announcement from President Biden mandating vaccinations or weekly testing for businesses with 100 or more employees, which is meant to be enforced by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.