Refusal to rent home to ethnic minority couple sparks new racism debate


An email sent by a broker informing a Dutch-Moroccan couple that a home in Ter Aar they were interested in renting can only be rented by people of Dutch origin, again sparked a racism debate in the Netherlands. 

The couple went to look at the home in the Zuid-Holland town and decided they were interested, so they sent in all the documents the broker asked for. "The owner has chosen to only rent to people of Dutch descent. I am sorry to have to report this to you", read the email they received in response. One of the applicants posted a screenshot of the email on Facebook.

"I know that there is a lot of racism, but effort is done to disguise it as we often see on the labor market", the applicant wrote on Facebook. "Apparently this also applies to the housing market. I am more shocked by the fact that it has become dead normal to discriminate. Being tactical is no longer necessary, although I appreciate the honesty of the person who typed this mail." The post received dozens of responses, mostly from people urging her to press charges.

The brokerage from Rijnsaterwoude in Zuid-Holland confirmed the authenticity of the email to NOS. "Of course I can tell these people a nonsense story, but the owner said this explicitly", the employee who typed the email said to the broadcaster. "We did not invent that ourselves. We do not have problems with people."

One of the brokers at the company said that the brokerage made a mistake with this email and is ashamed of it. "The wording is very unfortunate, and certainly not what was meant. In the past the owner had bad experiences with migrant workers from the Eastern Bloc who rent a lot here, and said she doesn't want it anymore. She'd rather rent to a Dutch family, in the broadest sense of the word. So also Moroccan-Dutch, Dutch-Moroccan or whatever you want to call it."

The brokerage will apologize to the couple and explain the story. "If the house is still available, we want to offer it to them, otherwise a different house, perhaps with priority", the broker said to NOS.

Hans van den Heuvel of brokerage trade association VBO called this a fine example of how things shouldn't be done. "We all have to adhere to the anti-discrimination principle", he said to the broadcaster. If a homeowner makes such a request, the broker should discuss it with him or her. "It often comes from negative experiences: damage or nuisance from drunken or noisy people. If a home is up for rent again, it is the chance to do it right. Then he crosses the line." According to Van den Heuvel, it is then up to the broker to point out unacceptability to the owner. "I understand your concerns, but you are also bound to decency."

Earlier this year a brokerage in Amsterdam also made headlines when it informed an prospective tenant that the apartments she was looking at can only be rented to people who cook "western" food.


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