Underlining how much our world has changed over the last two years, there are instances already where apartment building residents are considering barring unvaccinated residents.
According to media reports, several owners corporations are now even drafting "bylaws" to restrain unvaccinated occupants from using common property amenities. These shared facilities could include pools, gyms, and perhaps even lifts that the unvaccinated owners will be expected to keep paying for through their strata levies or tenants through higher rents.
So far, state governments have provided little guidance to apartment buildings – ranging from a duplex of two homes to complexes of well over 1000 apartments – about safely conducting their living arrangements. That said, in July, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant warned, "When you're in apartment buildings, we're not wanting you to congregate in any shared spaces."
That said, whether or not an owners corporation would be permitted to introduce a vaccine mandate for residents of a building would be subject to various factors.
The NSW Government has instituted vaccine mandates for health workers and in residential aged care facilities. Still, currently, there is no specific law (such as a public health order) that requires tenants or owners in an apartment building to be vaccinated and provide their medical information to the owners corporation.
To hold up, a vaccine mandate from an owners corporation must be supported by a 'bylaw'. As such, any 'house rules' forbidding the unvaccinated from common areas that aren't registered as bylaws won't cut the legal mustard.
Bylaws are the rules for managing the strata scheme and need a special resolution of the owners' corporation. Moreover, it requires 75% of the owners to vote in favour of the resolution. But there's more. The bylaw must be registered with NSW Land Registry Services within six months before enforcement is possible.
Once a bylaw is in operation, it can still be disputed and invalidated by a property owner, for example, because it is considered too harsh. For example, a bylaw that resulted in an owner-occupier or tenant not having access to their property or hosting visitors could be regarded as harsh.
Moreover, suppose you are seeking to rent a new apartment or townhouse and aren't vaccinated. A potential bylaw could preclude you from even making an application, attending open homes and the like. At this stage, however we are waiting for more guidance on this issue from state and territory health departments.
How restrictions are policed within an apartment block also remains to be seen, and at what cost to owners and tenants? Of course, the best way to ensure you can live in suitable home is to consider following the prevailing administrative and medical fraternity’s advice and get a jab.
To discuss your rental needs, contact your local Raine & Horne Property Manager today.