Czech ombud says real estate agents in Ústí Region refuse Romani clients
Several real estate brokers in the Ústí Region are committing direct discrimination by refusing to facilitate negotiations about apartment rentals for Romani tenants, according to Czech Ombud Anna Šabatová, who says landlords are crossing the line in these cases when it comes to choosing tenants. Her office has already informed the Real Estate Chamber of the Czech Republic, the Association of Real Estate Agents of the Czech Republic, and the Czech Chamber of Real Estate Agents of its findings.
Šabatová said the cases will most probably end up before the courts. A social worker informed the ombud of Romani renters' difficulties in finding apartments in the Ústí Region.
The social worker had been attempting to help Romani tenants find rentals. When she told brokers that she was contacting them on behalf of Romani clients, they refused to negotiate apartment viewings with her, telling her that the owners did not want Romani tenants.
Šabatová explained that discrimination is being committed in such cases not only by the apartment owners, but also by the brokers, even though they are following the owners' instructions. To verify the claims, staffers from the ombud's office made use of so-called situational testing.
The ombud's staff collaborated with the Counseling Center for Citizenship, Civil and Human Rights on the testing. The ombud asked two testing workers to telephone real estate agents, introduce themselves as Romani women, and ask for services finding a rental apartment.
The brokers subsequently told them they could not mediate a rental for them because the owner did not want Romani families moving in. The ombud now expects the real estate agents' associations to negotiate a remedy in the matter.
Šabatová emphasized that the women involved in the situational testing had become victims of discrimination and are able to seek compensation under the law. One of the testing workers has decided to file suit against the real estate agent that rejected her, and the District Court in Litoměřice is expected to handle the matter.
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