Ghent first European city to scrutinise housing discrimination

From this October, Ghent will be the first city in Europe to systematically carry out systematically pratical tests on housing discrimination within the rental market.

The Flemish Housing Minister, Liesbeth Homans (of the New Flemish Alliance) is not, however, in favour of such methods.

Around 30 volunteers will have responsibility for checking whether there are cases of such discrimination.

This will done by making enquiries on two occasions as to availability of a property to rent; once with the prospective tenant with a foreign-sounding name and next or indeed, in many cases firstly, someone with a Flemish surname.

If the responses provided are not the same, a case of discrimination will thus be established.

The Flemish Housing Minister instead is speaking in favour of sector self-regulation.

Liesbeth Homans is inviting the sector to make proposals to fight against this phenomenon.

She does not wish for a decision to come from the authorities for the present time.

She evokes the point that everyone is in a position to complain if he or she wishes to.

According to the the University of Ghent researcher supervising the tests, victims often ignore the fact that they are subjected to discrimination.

They simply receive and accept the response that the property is already rented.

Koen Van der Bracht thus considers that lodging a complaint is not the best means to fight against this phenomemon.

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