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One in six with a 'non-Belgian' name suffer housing discrimination in Namur

 The city of Namur has revealed the findings of a study into discrimination in the housing sector within the Walloon capital.

In 2022, the city commissioned a comprehensive investigation to assess the extent of bias in its real estate sphere, carried out by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). This study was a collaborative effort involving Unia, the Centre for Intercultural Action of the province of Namur, and the Public Centre for Social Welfare (CPAS) in Namur.

Conducted in two stages, the research examined discrimination based on ethnicity and income source.

Initially, 1,196 correspondence tests were carried out with estate agents and private landlords between February and March 2022. This was followed by a reminder of the law sent to estate agents, and from May to June 2022, an additional 1,029 tests were conducted with the same estate agents.

In total, over 2,200 correspondence tests were undertaken with fictional tenants bearing similar profiles but differing in terms of the measured discrimination cause. Each contact was made in writing through Immoweb, ensuring consistent tone, length, and content in the messages.

The results show discrimination against people with names described in the study as non-Belgian in Namur’s private rental market.

In 17% of cases, candidates with non-Belgian (Moroccan and Congolese) names weren’t invited to view the property, compared with those bearing Belgian names. This bias was more pronounced among private landlords than estate agents.

Conversely, the study didn’t evidence estate agents demonstrating any form of income-based discrimination, unlike private landlords (27%).

To combat these discriminatory practises, sixty estate agents have already been made aware of this issue.

"Two training sessions for front-line workers of the City, CPAS, and associations will be given at the start of 2024," concludes Philippe Noël, President of the Public Center of Social Action (CPAS) in Namur.

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