Landlords discriminate against tenants with foreign names, tests confirm

Rental property owners discriminate against people with a migrant background more often than real estate agents, undercover testing carried out in Ghent has shown.

Private owners did not invite prospective tenants with Turkish, Slovakian or Ghanaian-sounding names to view a property in 39 per cent of cases. In comparison, agents usually do arrange a visit and reject 18 per cent of candidates with foreign-sounding names.

The city of Ghent has been conducting practice tests on the housing market for some time. In previous measurements, brokers' discrimination against candidates with Turkish names was lower. In 2015, it dropped from 26 per cent to 10 per cent, and was 14 per cent in 2017 and 2019. Brokers tested in previous surveys discriminate less often (12 per cent) than new players (20 per cent).

"Seventeen brokerage firms account for most of the discrimination"

Field tests, therefore, might have an effect on brokers, but not all of the tested firms appear sensitive to the issue. "Seventeen brokerage firms account for most of the discrimination," says professor Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. "More is needed here."

Levl, the organisation that carries out the field tests commissioned by the city of Ghent, will report brokers who continue to discriminate to the disciplinary chamber of the professional brokers' federation, BIV. The city's councillor for equal opportunities, Astrid De Bruycker, thinks the new Flemish Human Rights Institute should play a role in the fight against discrimination, "including possible legal action".




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