Discrimination in Netherlands housing rental market rife, research shows

A large proportion of rental housing agents in The Hague are prepared to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their ethnic background or sexual preference, according to research carried out on behalf of the city council, DutchNews.nl reports.

In total, 50 rental housing agents were phoned and asked by researchers posing as landlords if they could guarantee no-one from an ethnic minority or who was homosexual could rent their property. Just 22 of the 50 agents declined to cooperate.

The rest said either that it would not be a problem, or that they would help, even though it was not technically allowed.

The researchers also replied to 250 adverts for rental housing with a maximum price of €2,000 a month and found that people with a ‘non-western’ name were almost 20% more likely to be refused. Gay couples were 8% more likely to be rejected.

The project was carried out by research group Rigo, which was earlier involved in similar research in Utrecht and Amsterdam. In Utrecht, the researchers found that four in five rental agents were prepared to comply with a discriminatory request. In Amsterdam, the researchers made phone calls to 41 agents saying they had a property to rent out, but that they only wanted native Dutch people as tenants.

In one third of the cases, the agents said they would comply.

The Hague’s housing chief Martijn Balster told councillors in a briefing that the city is now preparing to tackle discrimination in the housing market using a variety of methods.

These include making agreements with real estate agents and, potentially, the introduction of housing rental permits for all landlords. More research is also necessary, and the provision of information for landlords and agents needs to be improved. People who feel they have been discriminated again, should also make a formal complaint, Balster said. Officials will report back on progress by the end of the year.

In December 2019, the housing ministry announced plans to use ‘mystery shoppers’ to weed out discrimination, with junior minister Stientje van Veldhoven saying there was a ‘serious problem that needed to be tackled forcefully’.

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