A Florida landlord who owns eight apartment complexes totaling 1,200 units has given his tenants an ultimatum: get the Chinese coronavirus vaccine or get out.
Santiago A. Alvarez, 80, who mostly owns properties in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, told his employees and new tenants they must be able to show proof of vaccination by August 15. Those who already live in the building must get vaccinated if they wish to renew their leases.
“We have to be concerned about our tenants and our employees. All of these are private properties. We’re just trying to keep people safe and healthy. It’s going to cost us money, but we’re very firm on that,” Alvarez told Florida’s Sun-Sentinel after 15 of his tenants died in the pandemic.
Whether the move is legal is another matter entirely. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill this year that bans businesses, educational institutions, and government entities from requiring vaccine passports. The rule went into effect on Thursday and will be enforced by the Florida Department of Health.
“Florida law is clear. A business owner cannot require vaccine passports as a condition of entry. Each violation of the law will result in a $5000 fine,” Gov. DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw told Breitbart News on Thursday when asked if Alvarez is in violation of the vaccine passport ban.
Pushaw further said people’s jobs and housing should not be jeopardized over a “personal medical decision.”
“As Governor DeSantis said, nobody should lose their job over these unscientific and overreaching vaccine mandates. The same goes for housing; nobody should be denied a roof over their head because of a personal medical decision,” Pushaw said.
“As a side note, it is ironic how the Left is all for the CDC’s unconstitutional eviction moratorium, but they apparently have no problem with a landlord threatening to evict lawful paying tenants over vaccination status,” she continued.
However, Alvarez’s attorney, Juan C. Zorrilla, said he believes his client is not violating the vaccine passport ban because tenants are not “customers or patrons,” the Washington Post reported. He further said Alvarez is not providing a service to them and is willing to make exceptions for religious and medical exemptions.
Alvarez’s order has already cost one tenant a place to live. Jasmine Irby’s lease was up on August 31, but she had no plans of getting the vaccine, according to the Post. Instead, she left at the end of the month and moved in with family.
“No one wants to live anywhere where they are not wanted … If that’s the case, then I might as well get out,” Irby said. “It was just best that I walked away.”