‘They might die’: Swiss homeowner refuses to sell to vaccinated buyers

A small plastic house sits next to a key on a wooden surface
Deciding not to sell to a vaccinated person is not discriminatory in Switzerland. Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash
A homeowner in Switzerland backed out of a sale at the last minute when learning the prospective buyers were vaccinated, fearing the vaccination may kill them before the deal was done. The refusal is not categorised as discriminatory under Swiss law.

Potential property buyers lost their chance to purchase a house when they revealed to the owner that they were vaccinated against Covid.

As reported by Watson news outlet on Thursday, a couple from the Neuchâtel region was negotiating with the homeowner to purchase her house.

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The process was nearly completed when they mentioned, during an aside conversation about the pandemic, that they had their Covid shots.

At that point the owner who, according to the couple, was an anti-vaxxer, refused to sell her house to them. The failed sale took place in late September. 

The buyers told Swiss news outlet Watson that while the owner struck them as a little weird, they liked the idea of doing the transaction without a broker or agent. 

“We quickly understood that we were dealing with a rather a-typical personality” one of the failed buyers said. 

“She sometimes made little, weird remarks. But we just made sure the meeting was going well.

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“She constantly changed her mind about the conditions of sale, always imposed new ones: on the dates, questions of taxes on the real estate gain … We felt she was really hesitant (to sell).”

The buyers said the woman brought up the topic of vaccination at a dinner. When learning the prospective buyers were vaccinated, the seller backed out of the deal due to fear the vaccinated buyers would die before the deal was done. 

“I could tell that she herself was very reluctant to vaccinate. Personally, I did not want to enter into the subject. But the moment she asked me the question, I knew I was going to be honest,” said one of the failed buyers.

“The goal was to sign immediately, with an onward sale in December. But for her, it was obvious that we were going to die between the time we signed and the actual sale.”

READ MORE: Why do so many Swiss prefer to rent rather than buy their own home?

The failed buyers said the woman had taken a “religious” type of stance and lamented how difficult it was to find “common ground” on vaccination status. 

Refusal legal under Swiss law: ‘The seller can refuse because he doesn’t like your face’

Even though Swiss law forbids discrimination based on one’s vaccine status, this applies to public entities and employers only.

However, when it comes to transactions between private individuals, “the seller can refuse to sell to you just because he doesn’t like your face”, said a legal expert quoted by Watson.

“This is contractual freedom”.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s Covid certificate is ‘not discriminatory’

Anti-vaccination movements are strong in Switzerland, which is at least in part why the country’s vaccination rate lags behind its neighbours and the EU average as a whole. 

In late October, police in the ski resort of Zermatt blocked the entrance to a bar and restaurant run by Covid sceptics who refused to comply with the country’s Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Swiss police use concrete to block access to Covid sceptic restaurant


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