BARCELONA City Council has become the first council in Spain to impose a penalty for ‘real estate racism’.
City bosses fined a real estate agency and landlord €45,000 for refusing to rent the property to a man from Morocco.
Refusing to rent property to anyone based on their race has been illegal since the start of 2020 but this is the first time a fine has been issued in Spain.
Computer engineer Redouane Mehdi reported racial discrimination to the Office for Non-Discrimination after he was denied the right to rent the property in Barcelona.
He said he chose the flat because of its close proximity to his work but despite providing three months’ worth of payslips and his work contract he never heard back from the agent.
Mehdi said after weeks of his calls going unanswered he was only told that the landlord had given the property to another tenant.
The computer scientist then asked his friend with a European name to call the agents who in turn told the friend that the flat was still available.
His friend delivered the same document and despite having less financial security than Mehdi, was offered the rental contract.
Mehdi said each time he tried to rent an apartment in the city he faced barriers due to his Moroccan heritage.
It comes as research revealed earlier this year that people who are not originally from Spain are being discriminated against in the rental market.
Foreigners face more difficulties securing a lease than Spaniards, according to the study.
A report by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration sent applications of the same socio-economic, family and gender conditions to real estate agencies and found that foreigners were disadvantaged by most measures compared with people from Spain.
Expats are two times more likely to be offered short-term rental contracts, with the research finding that only 34,8% of Spaniards are asked to sign indefinite leases compared to 62.2% of foreigners.
Agents favoured Spanish renters by telling them but not expats about available homes at the first point of contact in 70% of cases. Meanwhile 64% of foreign renters received this preferential treatment.
Agents also gave preferential treatment to Spanish people by only asking 19.9% for a guarantor when signing their lease. In contrast 32.3% of foreigners were asked to give details of a guarantor.
A shocking 72.5% of the real estate agencies contacted for the report admitted to explicit racism while 27.5% rejected the claims made by the study.
Nearly all agencies (82.8%) accepted that indirect and hidden forms of discrimination against foreigners existed in the property market.