Czech Republic: Yet another audio recording documents real estate agent discrimination against Roma
Shortly afer Romea.cz published a recent report about an audio recording capturing an example of a practice engaged in by landlords in the Czech Republic who, in violation of the law, a priori refuse to lease their apartment units to prospective tenants because they are of Romani origin, our editors received another audio recording of such an interaction. This new recording is of a telephone coversation between Miroslav Brož, a social worker, and an unnamed employee (probably a secretary) of a real estate company in Teplice.
The essence of the phone call is that the social worker is looking for rental housing for his Romani clients. As long as he is negotiating the details of such a rental with the secretary the conversation goes smoothly.
However, once the social worker "admits on the level" that the housing would be for a Romani family, the employee of the agency begins to refuse them. "This is a respectable family, the gentleman is employed and the lady is pregnant," the social worker attempts to argue, but he learns that the secretary has been given "instructions" that the apartment unit in question is not to be leased to Romani tenants.
The social worker then attempts to ascertain whether the agency might have other units that Romani families could apply for. "The owner does not want to lease any of those apartments [to Roma]," the agency employee explains to him, apologizing and saying that she "can't do anything about it."
The Antidiscrimination Act is the legislation that covers situations in which a prospective tenant of a certain ethnicity is a priori excluded from the opportunity to apply for rental housing, and the relevant passage of that law establishes that "if the owner of a property offered to the public [Section 1 paragraph 1 letter j] communicates through an agent (a real estate broker) that the owner does not want to conclude a contract with a person of a certain ethnicity, that is discrimination by means of instruction (Section 4 paragraph 5)." Specific disputes under this law are then addressed by suing in civil court, but for many impoverished victims of discrimination in access to housing it is frequently difficult if not outright impossible to arrange for the costly legal aid necessary to filing a lawsuit.
Many of these people rely on the limited degree of assistance that nonprofit organizations are able to provide them. The following is a full translation of the transcript of the conversation between social worker Miroslav Brož and the employee of the real estate agent in Teplice:
MB: I am a social worker, this apartment is not for me, but for a family whom I am aiding, and so I am asking whether you might have something else for them. I'd like to openly tell you that this is a Romani family - will that bother the landlords?
Agency: Yeah, the owner doesn't want that...
MB: On Masaryk Street...
Agency: Well, anywhere. He does not want Romani people and that sort of thing in particular, he does not want to lease anything in those circumstances.
MB: This is a respectable family, the gentleman works... the lady is pregnant, ok? I just don't know. Do you have an apartment available that could be leased to a Romani family seeking housing?
Agency: Here's what I can say: My colleague will be here next week, so if you want to reach an agreement with her, you should call next week. However, we have instructions, and she specifically said that as far as Romani people go, the answer is "No" in their case. I would like to ask you to call next week... and she will either confirm that to you or not.
MB: Ok. Fine, fine. Is there any another apartment that would be available through you?
Agency: Well, as far as that goes... we have these instructions, and the owner does not want to lease any of those apartments [to Roma], I can't do anything about it.
MB: Aha, aha. Well, fine, I... don't know whether I should thank you for this information or not. Goodbye.
Agency: I'd like to assist you, but unfortunately I cannot do anything about this, ok? These are not my apartments, and those are the instructions I have been given, ok?
MB: Fine, goodbye.
- Czech Republic: Landlord recorded refusing to rent apartment to Roma
- Czech Police say their hands are tied as Romani tenant and her children are unlawfully made homeless by Prague landlord trafficking in poverty
- Czech Republic: Romani tenants stand up to landlord's pressure tactics, rape alleged, police are investigating
- Czech nonprofit real estate agency helps people facing discrimination find housing
- US State Department reproaches Czech Republic over corruption, discrimination against Romani people
- Czech inspectors issue discrimination fines: Foreigners charged more, Roma refused service
- Council of Europe chief says discrimination against Romani people continues to be ignored
- Commentary: Czech ombudsman's racist remarks reveal his ignorance of Roma and of history
- Czech housing benefit rules become more strict as of 1 July
- Czech nursery school underpays Romani janitor for years, refuses to compensate her, she is suing
- Austrian SozialMarie award goes to Slovak project Dom.ov aiding Romani families with building housing
- Slovak Education Ministry establishes expert team focused on solving problems with the education of members of national minorities
- Czech MEPs welcome European Commission lawsuit against Austria over different allowances for non-expatriate children of EU workers
- Celebrity rejected by Czech real estate agency because of Romani surname: "It was a shock"
- Czech Supreme Administrative Court upholds homeless Romani family's appeal of eviction, returns case to Regional Court
- Romani woman with Harvard PhD calls Czech racist landlord over his antigypsyist advertisement
- Czech bill would prevent evictions due to nonpayment of rent during COVID-19 pandemic
- Bulgarian officials exploiting fear of COVID-19 to discriminate against Roma
- Czech town puts "container housing" for Romani-inhabited locality on hold, former ombudswoman recommended cancelling it altogether