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Brussels to start fining discriminatory landlords
Starting next year, private landlords and property management firms in Brussels will be fined if inspectors find that they are discriminating against renters based on ethnicity, gender or income. The government of the Brussels-Capital Region has approved a change to the housing code to be able to administer fines.
Both landlords and property management agencies have been known to claim that a property has already been rented if they get a call from someone with an accent or with a foreign-sounding name. Housing inspectors have been going undercover to investigate the practice for the last 18 months.
Inspections will continue, and if it appears that a private landlord or agency is guilty of such practices, they will receive a fine next year. Fines range from €125 to more than €6,000 depending on how serious the offense is. Agencies will be fined more than individuals, Brussels housing minister Céline Fremault told Bruzz, “because it is expected that they will be more aware of the laws around this”.
The government has been running an awareness campaign to inform landlords and agents that discrimination in housing is illegal. The campaign was launched following a study carried out by equal opportunity agency Unia that 40% of real estate agents in the Capital-Region discriminate against clients of foreign descent.
Anyone who suspects that a landlord or agent is discriminating against them because of ethnicity, gender or income can contact Unia.
Photo: Herwif Vergult/BELGA