A testing by SOS-Racisme sheds light on racial discrimination in real estate rental

Three years after its first testing of discriminatory practices with real estate agencies in Ile-de-France, SOS-Racisme renewed it, in 2022, with 136 agencies throughout France. The method is innovative: rather than submitting applications from tenants, members of the association pretended, by telephone, to be private landlords whose fictitious name sounded “old France”, seeking to rent an apartment but refusing to from the outset any tenant of foreign origin or supposed such, insisting on the profiles “Arab and black, in order to avoid neighborhood problems”, they specified.

The report, published on Monday March 21, shows a slight progress compared to 2019, since 51% of the agencies contacted outright refused to practice this discriminatory and illegal selection, compared to 48% three years ago. “No, we can’t discriminate, replied an employee of the Nestenn agency in Marseille. It’s serious what you tell me, I can’t, I don’t have the right and I can be attacked for it. » “I’ll arrest you right now, replied another, from the L’Adresse network, in Toulouse. If you find an agency that accepts you, go ahead, because I will not accept this kind of request. » “First, this kind of discrimination is strictly illegal, retorted a manager of the National Federation of Real Estate (Fnaim) of Toulouse, and if I have this kind of directive, I will not follow it. »

Read also According to SOS-Racisme, racial discrimination in rental still exists in Ile-de-France

In 34 agencies, i.e. around 25% of those tested, the property manager nevertheless accepted the solicitation without batting an eyelid: “These are things that we will not put on the ad because we do not have the right, but we will ensure that, on the accession of tenants, we pay attention to that”, promised a Fnaim agency from the south of France. David Chouraqui, general manager of the Square Habitat network, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole, three agencies of which are singled out by this testing, does not hide his anger: “These practices are serious and do not correspond to our values, so I will study these contentious cases in detail,” he promises.

“A certain impunity”

Finally, 23% of the professionals contacted adopt an ambiguous attitude, recalling the illegality of the instructions but leaving it up to the owner to apply them: “Normally, I don’t have the right, because it’s discrimination, and if the file is solvent, if it’s good, I’m obliged to offer it to you, argued an agent Guy Hoquet from the west of France. Afterwards, you remain the decision-maker”, he concludes. “In the law, I’m going to tell you ‘no, it’s not possible’, it would be a problem of discrimination, advanced another, from the L’Adresse network, also in the West. But it’s up to you to make the decision. »

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