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Real estate racism: “I don’t rent my apartment to immigrants”

An example in the Tarragona neighborhood of Sant Salvador: the owner of a flat agrees to sell it with a Moroccan buyer. The operation collapses shortly after because in the neighborhood they find out about that foreign origin. Among all, they said: «Let’s find you another candidate, because we do not want to put an immigrant in the block». Other times it has been late. The neighbors check later and recognize the person who sold: “You should have warned us and we would have found another buyer for you.”

This type of situation of real estate racism is neither new nor isolated. Bans and claims after a sale or attempt are relatively common. In Ponent there were at least two cases last week. «We were just going to make the visit and, although the candidate had to leave before, the owner had seen him and, when she left, she already said that she would still he was not interested because he had seen that he was Moroccan»explains the person in charge of a Tarragona real estate agency.

The case happened in Torreforta and, next door, in Camp Clar, there was another that, to make matters worse, was not related to a rental but to a possible sale: «I am closing an inheritance. They are three brothers. An owner wants to sell and she is the person who shows the apartment and she has no problem selling to anyone, but she does receives pressure from some neighbors, with phrases like ‘you know that no immigrant enters here’. And, of course, she is very overwhelmed”, denounces this worker, who acknowledges: “I find very unfair situations and they make me uncomfortable. It’s something that shouldn’t happen.”

Racism or income level?
Several Tarragona agencies acknowledge being more or less accustomed to these terms: homeowners who establish requirements that have to do with ethnicity when renting or selling. «As for sale I have not found any case. Regarding rent, there are cases more or less often, not so much as a matter of racism but as something related to job stability, to income. It’s the same as when they tell you: ‘I don’t admit students or I only want civil servants’. We do what the owner tells us. It’s a bit more income. A Moroccan with a payroll of 4,000 euros won’t mind if he gets a home’».

The border is diffuse and the situation in which some of these establishments are placed becomes delicate. It is an illegal practice that is carried out in the shadows. Of course, It is not made explicit in any advertisement or publicly filtered, but the screening actually exists and is masked in a different way. “Sometimes, when someone calls, they are already told that the apartment is rented or that it is no longer available,” they admit from the agencies. “There is everything. We are required not to rent to immigrants, but no more so than in the ‘no pets’ or ‘couples without children’ requirement. If we had limited transactions with immigrants years ago we would have lowered the blind, “says another agency.

They denounce tougher and more rigorous filters and higher compensation in contracts

On other occasions, in environments with more immigration, normalization has been imposed. “Rarely have they asked us not to rent to foreigners, because here they are integrated, Moroccans, Senegalese… Rare is the staircase in which there is not an immigrant,” they comment from another establishment. “The owner is within his rights but it is something extremely unfair”, admits Redouane Ennajy, a translator and interpreter in Tarragona, who participates in mediation and support to find a flat, especially for people from the Moroccan community.

Ex ores without possibilities
“The real estate they always regret that the owner does not want to rent to immigrants, unless he had a very good job to pass the filter and give many guarantees. Most of them do not even appreciate that”, explains Ennajy, testimony of some grievances: “There are many ex-mines, who have work permits and even a job. Let’s imagine a situation in which three guys, with their job and with a life perspective, want to rent a flat and share it. As well, you try it by active and passive and there is no way. It is not ethical to hinder these people. They have to live somewhere.”

They only have then go to “some Moroccan who has an available apartment and can rent it”. Ennajy denounces that, when they do not encounter refusals of entry, they do so under a series of “tougher” conditions: «If you call and they see that you are Moroccan, just for that you go through a very rigorous filter. When you write the contract, they touch on certain points that would not be addressed in the case of a Spaniard, a lot of compensation in the event that something breaks, leaving the apartment in certain conditions. Much more steps are taken to ensure the profile is correct.” The casuistries that derive from all this kind of housing racism are very diverse: “There are some who end up changing their minds. If the real estate agency has a good feeling, even though the owner has previously warned, he calls him and they try. They tell him: ‘We are going to pass him a filter’ and he can end up renting ».

“These are ingrained prejudices”
For Ennajy, the causes are also varied. «There are people who close the band because they have had a bad experience but there are others who oppose the bad reputation and because of deep-rooted prejudices that make them refuse outright. They think, ‘I’ve never had a bad experience and I don’t want to.’ Ennajy acknowledges that these attitudes «start from a point of view far from xenophobia or racism and they have the desire to have a bloc with civility in the face of the fear that it will cease to be so», but warns of the risks: «If we start to put a filter not on economic requirements but on the color of the person, we are going to end up breaking the ties of coexistence that we have achieved».
Issam Oudriss, a member of the Sindicat d’Habitatge de Reus, is aware of damages on the line: “It is quite a recurring thing. For us, it is still a sign of classism that leads to much more precarious conditions. ANDIt’s a pretty general thing.”

Oudriss recounts some situations: «Some are direct. You exceed all the requirements that claim you, and you pass the name, Mohammed, and they tell you directly ‘not Moors’. Others are more discreet and tell you that they have already found someone else or that the apartment is already rented. It also happens with the gypsy ethnic group. Things are going well until they see the person. That’s where everything changes”. Oudriss emphasizes that “it is not to ensure that income or a bad experience can be guaranteed, but that the vast majority of cases cannot be tolerated anywhere. Even for people with payroll and permanent work for many years it is an odyssey ».

A widespread practice
Some studies already put figures on this phenomenon. The report ‘Is it rented? Racism and xenophobia in the rental market’, prepared by Provivienda on behalf of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, speaks of discrimination as a widespread practice. «72.5% of the real estate agents contacted accept explicit forms of discrimination», according to this report, which adds: «This overwhelming majority only presents lower levels in Barcelona, ​​which could be associated with the opening of the first disciplinary file by the City Council for reasons of residential discrimination. Of the remaining 27.5% who do not explicitly accept it, 81.8% tolerate other indirect and hidden forms. Namely, We hardly find real estate agencies that reject any form of discrimination based on origin.

From SOS Racisme, they indicate that these cases in the field of housing “these are not specific conflicts”but “there is a systematic omission of the duty of the administrations and normal discriminatory practices by real estate agencies, owners and neighbors that hinder access and enjoyment of a basic right to non-white migrants and racialized people”.

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