Could Apartments Turn Down Anti-Vax Renters?

So, I’m going to see the band Bush in a few weeks. They were popular in the ’90s (and was my first concert, like, ever), and they’re totally back! I’m so excited! Do you know what’s also back? Flannel shirts. Oh, and measles.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, even though it was considered eradicated in the United States years ago, there is currently an outbreak of measles, which started in Disneyland, and now is spreading across the country. Many people are saying that it’s able to spread so far now because of an anti-vaccination movement, where parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

And some private institutions, such as doctors’ offices and daycare centers, are having none of this. They’re refusing services to children who haven’t been vaccinated, claiming that these children put other people at risk of disease, such as infants who are too young to receive the immunization.

Which got me wondering, what about apartments? Could property managers turn down potential renters who are anti-vax in the name of public health and safety? Would they even want to do that?

Privately owned communities are, obviously, privately owned. So as long as it doesn’t violate Fair Housing laws, could owners demand that renters who were able to and weren’t exempt for religious reason be vaccinated? (Would this violate Fair Housing laws? I’m clearly not a lawyer, so maybe a someone could fill me in on this in the comments section.)

But could asking for medical records of potential residents be a slippery slope? Would that then lead leasing offices to deny people apartments for ailments such as HIV or cancer? And what about people’s privacy rights? Maybe you’re not allowed to ask renters for any sort of medical records, so this whole issue might be moot. Then again, schools and camps require immunization records. Should apartments be any different? And there are already some pretty crazy things on some leases. I remember having to sign something saying I’m not a terrorist before I could rent an apartment (I guess they were hoping that, sure, people may be terrorists, but at least they wouldn’t lie about something like that). Couldn’t requiring residents to prove they are vaccinated against highly contagious diseases also be something that could be on a lease?

What do you think about this? If you were allowed to require residents to prove they were vaccinated, would this be something you’d do? Should property managers just butt out on this issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor