COVID-19 Landlord/Tenant Issues In Florida
When landlords and tenants disagree, it is usually over things such as rent, lease agreements, paying for repairs, and tenant’s rights. Times have changed and now some landlords could be facing battles over COVID vaccinations.
Can landlords require that tenants get vaccinated before they move in or renew their leases? One landlord is trying to find out. The man owns 1,200 units in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He wants to require new tenants over the age of 18 as well as residents who want to renew their lease to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
This may be a tough rule to enforce, given that Florida’s own governor, Ron DeSantis, does not support mask and vaccine mandates. He signed a bill banning businesses, schools, and government entities from requiring vaccine passports. The rule has been in effect since September.
Despite this, the law may be in the landlord’s favor. That’s because technically, the right to own property is not a good or service. Therefore, the state law may not apply. Constitutionally, a landlord could try to require COVID vaccines in Florida.
According to DeSantis’ bill, business owners who require a vaccine passport could get fined $5,000 each time they violate the law. That may not be enough to stop landlords, though, as the bill’s language may not legally cover landlord-tenant disputes. While hotels and Airbnbs could be considered a good or service and therefore required to meet the requirements of the requirements, apartment rentals may be a different story.
Tenants do have rights and one of the rights likely includes the decision to not be vaccinated. Landlords don’t typically require vaccinations, so why would the COVID one be any different? Even if vaccine cards are required, how do landlords prove their validity? These cards can be forged, so there’s nothing that can verify who has and who has not been vaccinated. Also, there is concern that issues surrounding COVID could be used as a form of discrimination. If a tenant does get COVID, then what happens? It becomes a disability issue. Can a landlord evict a tenant for coming down with COVID? Most likely, no.
In any case, there’s nothing stopping DeSantis from amending the bill if potential tenants raise a ruckus over COVID vaccine requirements. If he really wanted to, he could go back and update the language in the bill to include living arrangements.
Seek Legal Help
Many people are having trouble finding affordable housing right now. Being denied based on COVID vaccination status would be a frustrating situation, especially if a tenant cannot get a vaccine for health reasons.
Fort Lauderdale landlord tenant dispute resolution lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can help you resolve landlord/tenant issues without having to go to court. Get sound advice and effective legal representation. To schedule a consultation today, call our office at 954-764-4330 or fill out the online form.