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Burnaby renter feels violated after landlord asked for proof of COVID-19 vaccine

Last Updated Jun 4, 2021 at 8:35 am PDT

FILE - A COVID-19 immunization record card. (Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Burnaby renter hesitant to comply with request from landlord for COVID-19 vaccination record

Renter says he worries if he doesn't comply with landlord's request, he could face eviction

B.C. lawyer says landlords are not allowed to ask for personal health information

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – A renter in Burnaby is weighing his options after getting a request for some pretty personal health information from his landlord: proof he’s been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“He wants the actual card that they give you after the vaccination,” says the tenant, who wants to remain anonymous to avoid retribution from his landlord. “I kind of felt, I guess, violated in a privacy kind of way. He’s really overstepping his bounds as a landlord in my opinion.”

The man and his two roommates live in the same house as the landlord, but the three renters are in the basement while the landlord is upstairs. The man says they don’t share any space with the landlord and there is no access between the two suites.

He’s hesitant to comply but fears if he won’t, he’ll be threatened with eviction.

“I’m not comfortable sharing medical information with a landlord. It’s not his business as far as I’m concerned,” the man tells NEWS 1130.

“It’s the principle for sure, because like, I’ll say right now: I’m vaccinated — the first dose, anyway. But it’s more than just, ‘am I vaccinated or not?’ He doesn’t need to know basically, that’s the gist of it.”

The man hopes that by sharing his story, he can help others who may be facing a similar situation.

Landlords cannot ask for personal health information: lawyer

Lisa Mackie, a lawyer at Alexander Holburn whose primary areas of practice are Strata Property Law and Residential Tenancy Law, says landlords are not allowed to ask for personal health information.

“As a general rule, landlords are not permitted to collect health information about their tenants or proof of immunization. In Canada and British Columbia, we do not mandate individuals to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“The general rule is that the only personal information that can be used or collected or disclosed about tenants, are those that are necessary for managing the tenancy or the rental property … and the tenant’s medical information or proof of vaccination would not be connected with that rule.”

David Hutniak with LandlordBC says landlords shouldn’t be asking for proof of vaccination.

“This would not be an appropriate request on behalf of the landlord,” he says.


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“Even employers can’t ask for, mandate vaccines. So needless to say, you know, at this juncture it would be highly irregular for landlords to be able to demand that their tenants provide proof of vaccine.”

But he suggests, given ongoing conversations about proof of immunization and vaccine passports, it is possible for things to change.

“At this juncture, that’s not something that is contemplated in the Residential Tenancy Act, which is the legislation that we’re bound to abide by,” he adds.

“Having said that, the Residential Tenancy Act also dictates that a landlord has a responsibility for the health and safety for their tenants. And so multi-unit residential building, you know, we may end up in a situation where a multi-unit apartment building, everybody has to provide proof that they have a vaccine — I mean, we don’t know, we’re not there yet.”

Meanwhile, B.C.’s top doctor has said she has no plans to require documentation proving people have been vaccinated for certain activities within the province, such as travelling locally or going into stores.