More than one third of rental housing agents are prepared to exclude people with foreign names from the properties they offer, and discrimination against potential tenants with foreign names is more common outside the big cities, according to new research for the home affairs ministry.
The research, carried out by anti-discrimination organisations Art. 1 and Radar, involved 3,000 reactions to adverts for housing with a rent of up to €1,500 per month, using Dutch, Polish and Moroccan names.
The results showed that in 8% of cases, a man with a Polish name was not asked to look a property, while the man with the Dutch name was. But this rose to 20% outside the big four Dutch cities.
The researchers also found that there was no significant difference in whether man with a Moroccan or a Dutch name was invited for a viewing in the four big cities. In small towns, however, the difference stretched to 20%.
The difference was smaller, but still significant for women with a Moroccan name but there was no difference when landlords were approached by a gay or a heterosexual couple.
In addition, the researchers placed 105 phone calls to estate agents, claiming to be landlords who did not want to rent their property out to a foreigner.
More than one third said they were willing to do so, and just 15 said they would not cooperate. The rest said this would be up to the landlords themselves.
Housing minister Kajsa Ollongren called the results ‘alarming’. ‘This research shows that discrimination on the housing market is nationwide and is not just an issue in the big cities,’ she said.
Ollongren said efforts to tackle discrimination in housing would now be intensified. This involves giving local authorities more powers to bring in licences for landlords and more scrutiny of the regulations governing housing rental agencies, she said.
Sector association VBO told news website Nu.nl that rental agents should be required by law to be members of the organisation, because this would force them to comply with the code of conduct. It also called for more transparency in determining how non-rent controlled properties are allocated on the basis of work, income and family situation.
In 55 cases landlords responded to the request for a viewing with an explanation of why this could no not take place. In half these cases they said the apartment was too small for two people, but 15 landlords replied that they only rented to expats.
The researchers point out that this too can lead to indirect discrimination by excluding others who would also qualify for the property. People with a Polish name were also more likely to receive a reply in English, almost half of which came from rental agencies in Amsterdam.
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