Brussels wants to end discrimination in housing

“Too many Brussels residents are victims of discrimination when looking for accommodation. As a result, faced with unjustified refusals from landlords or real estate agents, victims of discrimination are forced to accept unsuitable or unhealthy housing for an often excessive rent ”, denounces in substance the Secretary of State for Housing, Nawal Ben Hamou.

To solve this equation, the region launched the Housing Emergency Plan. This system aims to strengthen the provisions of the Brussels Housing Code relating to the fight against discrimination in housing, the recruitment of additional inspectors to increase the number of cases examined by the Directorate of the Regional Housing Inspectorate (DIRL) and the launch of a communication campaign to inform prospective tenants about the legal options available to them when they are discriminated against.

Éric Mathay, President of the Brussels regional union of the National Union of Owners and Co-Owners (SNPC) protests against the theme of “discrimination” which he considers inappropriate. Because, he explains, it is almost impossible to show the many housing seekers who often respond to an advertisement. “We are obliged to sort it out”, explains this representative of the owners, maintaining that it is not a question of discrimination but of choosing profiles that best correspond to the criteria of the rented property.

Another advance made by the region is the possibility given to the regional housing inspectorate to hire actors to carry out situation tests. The Secretary of State for Housing tabled a preliminary draft order, adopted on first reading by the government on April 29, aimed at relaxing this legal framework. “The tests against discrimination will therefore become proactive tests, a first in Belgium”, rejoices the Secretary of State. The draft also aims to expand the list of discrimination criteria and prevent “extremely intrusive” fact sheets before a simple visit.

With these new measures Unia, the public institution for equal opportunities and the fight against racism, welcomes a political will to go “in the right direction”. However, Unia notes that the heightened competition in the real estate sector necessarily leads to discrimination.

For Éric Mathay, the real problem does not come from private owners but from the Region. According to him, there has not been enough social housing for several years in Brussels.

Always in the logic of ending discrimination, it was announced the beginning of Friday, May 7, of a communication campaign on the rights and duties of landlords and landlords. This campaign is planned first on the Internet and then by posting in the region. Thus, any person, victim or witness, natural or legal, can lodge a complaint or a report for discrimination in housing with the Directorate of the Regional Housing Inspectorate (DIRL) via the or site.

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