Coronavirus and the Law

Coronavirus and the Law

Vaccinations, Tenancy and Housing

The Covid Protection Framework has serious effects for tenants and landlords. The rights and obligations of tenants and landlords are outlined below. However, some COVID-19 laws are still unclear at this stage, especially when it comes to enforcing the rules.

Can my landlord ask me if I am vaccinated?

Yes, if they are doing a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with government guidelines.

A landlord is considered as a business or organisation by health and safety law which means they can do a COVID-19 risk assessment for their rental properties.

The risk assessment may show that the health and safety of other people (for example, other tenants, the landlord, neighbours, or tradespeople) outweighs your privacy rights. Letting your landlord know your vaccination status would also be helpful information if one of the tenants needed to self-isolate.

In these situations, the landlord can also ask for a copy of your vaccine pass. If a landlord keeps a copy of your vaccine pass, they must not share any details with other people.

Can landlords ask new or future tenants if they are vaccinated?

Yes, if the landlord has completed and passed a risk assessment in line with government guidelines they can.

Same rules apply as “Can my landlord ask me if I am vaccinated?”

What is a COVID-19 risk assessment?

A COVID-19 risk assessment is when a business owner or landlord considers whether their business or property creates a high risk of spreading COVID-19. The risk assessment may show that vaccination of tenants is a reasonable and necessary step to prevent the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

The risk will depend on the situation, for example, the risk would be less for an unvaccinated tenant living alone or in a single family unit. It may also be possible to manage the risks safely, for example by requiring trades people or property managers to be vaccinated and wear masks when they visit.

Can my landlord make me get vaccinated?

In some situations, landlords can require you to get vaccinated.  Your landlord needs to do a COVID-19 risk assessment first.  If the risk assessment shows that unvaccinated tenants pose a big enough risk, your landlord can require you to get vaccinated.

Your landlord needs to follow these steps:

  • Your landlord tells you that they are doing a risk assessment
  • They ask you for feedback and suggestions on how to reduce risk to all residents
  • If the landlord decides vaccination is necessary after discussing the risk assessment with you, then they need to write to you and tell you:
    • the reasons why vaccination is necessary; and
    • how long you have to get your first jab (which needs to be fair, such as 4 to 6 weeks)
  • If you do not get your first jab by the set date, the landlord needs to write to you again and tell you:
    • you have breached the landlord’s vaccination policy; and
    • you have another final 14 days to get your first jab.
  • If you fail to get your first jab within the next 14 days, the landlord can ask the Tenancy Tribunal to end your tenancy.

Your landlord must follow the rules in the Residential Tenancies Act carefully when ending a tenancy. See next question.

Can my landlord end my tenancy if I don’t get vaccinated?

If the risk is big enough, and you won’t get vaccinated, the landlord can ask the Tenancy Tribunal to end your tenancy.

Before asking the Tenancy Tribunal to end your tenancy, your landlord needs to follow the steps outlined above.

If your landlord hasn’t followed those steps you should contact your nearest Community Law Centre or seek other legal support.

My landlord is unvaccinated, can I stop them from entering the property?

No. However, your landlord must take steps to keep themselves and tenants safe.

It would be reasonable to expect a landlord to take health and safety precautions when entering the property (for example wearing a mask and keeping social distance). If a landlord does not take these precautions, you could complain to the Tenancy Tribunal.

The landlord must follow the normal rules in the Residential Tenancies Act when coming to your residence, including giving at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.

Do I have to be vaccinated to get emergency housing?

No. Emergency housing providers must not deny anyone of emergency housing because of vaccination status.

Do I have to tell my landlord if I am self-isolating or sick with COVID-19?

No, this is private information. Under the Privacy Act tenants can decide whether or not they want to share their COVID-19 or vaccination status.

Landlords can ask you if you’re vaccinated, but they cannot make you tell them. If you tell them, they can only use it to manage health and safety risks within the property.

Where can I go for more support?

If you need legal support or clarity on what you’ve read here, please contact a Community Law Centre or other legal advice service.

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