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"Four in 10 real estate agents discriminate against foreigners"

06:00 21/02/2014

According to the Centre of Equal Opportunities and the Fight Against Racism, four in 10 real estate agents discriminate against clients of foreign descent. The statistic comes from the Centre’s “Diversity Barometer” project with the Federal Ministry of Equal Opportunities, Belgium’s three regional housing ministries and the Institute for Women’s and Men’s Equality.

The study, carried out by two university consortiums, identified different forms of discrimination in both public and private real estate markets and evaluated their severity.

“Concerning private real estate, the Barometer results show that persons of foreign descent are particularly discriminated against,” notes Patrick Charlier, the centre’s deputy director. “Aware that it is illegal to discriminate based on such criteria, real estate agents find more subtle strategies," said Charlier. "This makes it more difficult for us to determinie."

Foreign test candidates used in the study reported receiving poorer treatment during real estate visits. They were also asked to provide more proof of their solvency. The study also reported that only one in 10 real estate agents explicitly refused to co-operate when lessors asked them to avoid foreign renters.

“We hope that the political leaders will take note of this Diversity Barometer and use it to review the current discrimination policies in place,” concludes Charlier.

Written by Kelly Hendricks