That was the question asked by long term member, Mary Mortimer, this month. How would you answer it?
Mary's concern is valid – as an older person she wants to reduce the risk of Covid infection even though she is vaccinated. We all know that vaccines help but like condoms, they don't always work! Mary was also concerned that several of her chosen trades people, who have been looking after her properties for many years, were themselves getting on and she did not want to put them to any unnecessary risk.
All understandable but her suggested solution, which was to put a clause in her contracts stating that the property could only be occupied by people who had received the vaccine was possibly a step too far.
Obviously the situation is changing and it seems likely that 'vaccine passports' will be needed for international travel – but until the same becomes 'the norm' for UK hospitality venues it is probably unrealistic for a landlord to believe they have any legal right to mandate whether a tenant should be vaccinated or not. Thus, any such clause in a contract is likely to fail the fairness test and would be thrown out in court. Indeed, the landlord could be laying themselves open to a charge of discrimination.
This could well change and change comes quickly where Covid rules are concerned but for the moment, our recommendation to members is to seriously think about whether having vaccinated tenants is important to you and how that sits in terms of priority alongside 'ability to pay the rent', references, credit status, past history and all of the other things you take into account when selecting a tenant. If it is important and you find you have 2 equally suitable candidates who both meet all of your other criteria, then it is acceptable to make a choice based on vaccination status as long as you can show that you are selecting the best candidate from a range of nearly equal ones as opposed to taking a less suitable one merely because they are vaccinated.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.