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German landlord fined for discrimination

December 10, 2019

An 81-year-old landlord advertised that he would only let his property to Germans. Discrimination is an underpunished problem in the real estate market.

Augsburg old town
Image: Imago/imagebroker

A German landlord was fined on Tuesday for advertising that he would only rent to German citizens.

The 81-year-old was fined €1,000 ($1,100) for the discriminatory advertisement after a prospective tenant from Burkina Faso was rejected and then complained to authorities.

A district court in the southern city of Augsburg banned the landlord from placing further advertisements that are limited to just Germans under threat of more substantial fines. 

"This overt discrimination against foreigners is simply not acceptable," Judge Andreas Roth said.

Read more: Berlin's new rent freeze: How it compares globally

The complainant, who was moving from Munich, told the court that the landlord swiftly ended an introductory phone call after he realized the applicant was foreign.

The landlord told the court that he had difficulty in the past with a Turkish drug dealer who he claimed had rented his apartment.

"Crimes and offences are committed by people, not a country's nationals," the judge replied.

About 70% of foreigners in Germany report feeling discriminated against in the German housing market. Even financially well-off applicants without a German passport reported feeling disadvantaged.

Religion also played a major role, with Muslim and Jewish applicants having a much harder time than Christians.

However, cases of discrimination in the housing market are typically difficult to police. Past cases involved not granting interviews to people with foreign-sounding surnames, increasing rent only for foreign tenants in an apartment building or refusing to rent to gay people. 

aw/msh (dpa, AFP)

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