South Florida landlord requires new tenants and those renewing their leases to be vaccinated
By Leyla Santiago and Dan Shepherd, CNN
(CNN) -- A South Florida landlord is requiring new tenants over the age of 18 or any adult tenants who want to renew a lease in one of the 1,200 units he manages to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.
Santiago Alvarez told CNN he has no plan to change his rule despite threats from Gov. Ron DeSantis to fine businesses that require proof of vaccination.
Alvarez said he made the decision a month ago after seeing too many of his tenants die from Covid-19.
"I think my decision was right, and I will defend it any way I can. If I get fined, I will go to court with it," he told CNN.
The landlord also requires his employees be fully vaccinated. He told CNN he has two employees and two tenants that have left as a result of his vaccination policies.
Alvarez, who said he has voted Republican for a long time, said he is not a DeSantis fan and urges the governor to follow the science, not the polls.
DeSantis has made it clear that he does not support mask and vaccine mandates, citing personal choice as a greater priority.
"These mandates are overreaches, and they will be very destructive for a lot of really, really good people," DeSantis said Tuesday.
The governor announced this week he will fine county and city governments requiring employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, threatening a $5,000 fine per violation.
Alvarez said he has about 80 to 100 tenants in Broward and Miami-Dade counties with lease renewals coming up soon.
He said he is willing to be flexible with tenants who don't want to provide proof of vaccination, but also don't have anywhere to go. He will consider a lease extension on a month-to-month basis with higher rent.
"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," Alvarez said.
DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, noted that the Florida Department of Health's rule enforcing a ban on vaccine passports takes effect Thursday.
"Under Florida law, people cannot be required to show vaccine passports as a condition of entry or service," she said.
There is a $5,000 fine for each violation.
"Mr. Alvarez and all who agree with him should be informed that vaccinated people can still transmit COVID to others, although they're protected against severe illness," she added. "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."
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