No vaccination no entry for community housing schemes?
Graham Paddock, a specialist community schemes attorney, notary and conveyancer, advises that schemes should not support any attempt to require vaccination to allow access. He shares his views below.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which has now been a feature of our lives for 18 months, continues to generate new controversies. People who by nature are orderly and conscientious – and that includes most managing agents and trustees – are usually prepared to accept restrictions of their freedoms. Their priority is to protect themselves, their families and their communities against infection. By contrast, people who are less orderly and conscientious, more creative and individualistic, are more likely to reject the idea that they and others should be vaccinated. Think of those who take little notice of scheme rules.
The Internet and newspapers are awash with reports and opinion pieces that set out the arguments for the opposing ‘Anti-Vax’ and ‘Pro-Vax’ camps. People who hold different views, however genuinely, are vilified, de-personalised and characterised as delusionary, backward or naive.
And once again, as with previous pandemic-related arguments, the issues are genuinely complex and reliable data is scarce. No amount of ranting and raving is going to make these issues simple or change people’s minds. So here are a few principles you can apply to avoid being wrong-footed in the management of your community scheme:
- Hold whatever views seem sensible to you in your personal capacity, and share these views as you like. But in your capacity as a managing agent or as a scheme executive, do not attempt to influence or change people’s minds as to whether or not they should get vaccinated – this is an intensely personal decision – for some people, much like a religious issue.
- A community scheme does not have the right to deny access to a resident or anyone that resident invites into the scheme grounds. Do not support any move to have the scheme make rules or policy decisions requiring vaccinations before accessing the scheme or any common property facilities.
- If individual owners choose to employ only contractors who can prove that they and their workers are vaccinated, then allow them to implement this decision—but scheme executives and employees should not become involved in this process.
I recently visited a community scheming where I was required to have my temperature tested and recorded. I also had to give my contact details. These are reasonable requirements that operate in the best interests of all the residents in that scheme—because this data can be used to trace people exposed to the Covid-19 virus. But a scheme does not have the statutory authority to go further and require that residents, employees or visitors be vaccinated.