The owner of the apartment and the real estate agency were fined 45,000 euros for refusing to rent the apartment to a Moroccan. According to Barcelona councilor Marc Serra, the penalty imposed “is a warning to all property operators not to discriminate in access to housing.”
The case concerns a Moroccan engineer who came to Barcelona three years ago. He tried to rent an apartment at the beginning of last year. Racism is not only that they attack you in the street, but also that they don’t want to rent you an apartment because you are Moroccan, said Redouane Mehdi, quoted on Friday by media including the Catalan daily El Periodico and elDiario “I couldn’t even make an appointment with a real estate agency, I had to ask my white friend for help,” he added.
When Mehdi proved his solvency and showed his last salaries, everything seemed ready to sign the lease. However, weeks passed and the real estate agency remained silent. After a month, he received an answer that the apartment had been rented to someone else.
A warning to real estate operators
With the help of a friend, Mehdi was able to prove that, in fact, the apartment was still empty and available on the rental market. “I was convinced it was discrimination,” he said. He was supported by the Barcelona Anti-Discrimination Office and the Discipline and Anti-Bullying Department at the City Housing Institute. “I hope my case will serve as an example that the Moroccan community has the tools to combat everyday racism,” emphasized Mehdi.
In an interview with the newspaper “El Pais”, the Moroccan admitted that the first question asked by real estate agency employees on the phone, after hearing his name, was about where he was from.
According to Barcelona councilor Marc Serra, “the fine is not intended to raise money for the office, but is a warning to all property operators not to discriminate in access to housing.”
The penalty was imposed on the basis of a 2007 Catalan housing contract, which prohibits direct discrimination in access to housing on the basis of origin. During Mehdi’s case, the landlords and the real estate agency denied that their behavior was discriminatory, but the claim was rejected.
A fine of 90,000 euros for the rental advertisement
Last year, Barcelona authorities fined the real estate agency The New House and Idealista with a EUR 90,000 fine for announcing a “Spanish only” rental.
According to research by city authorities, people with Arabic surnames applying for rent often face no response from real estate agencies. Discrimination goes so far that they have to ask their Spanish friends for help or change their name, elDiario reported.
El Pais reported that the Barcelona Anti-Discrimination Authority opened more than 10 investigations into discrimination in the housing market in the first quarter of this year, a significant increase compared to the last few years.
PAP, El Periodico, moroccoworldnews.com
Main photo source: Alessio Catelli / Shutterstock.com