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Muslims snubbed by landlords

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11:46 CET+01:00
Fifteen housing companies have been reported to Sweden's discrimination ombudsman after it was found that their treatment of customers with Swedish and Muslim names differs greatly.

The Swedish Union of Tenants asked four people, two with Swedish names and the others with Muslim names, to telephone 100 different housing companies. Fourteen of the companies only offered accommodation to applicants with Swedish names.

"We're going to keep repeating this process over the coming years. TV4 conducted a similar survey a couple of years ago and got the same results. It can't go on like this," Peder Palmstierna, spokesman for the Swedish Union of Tenants told The Local.

The tenants union feels that the best way to tackle the problem is to subject landlords to tighter regulations.

"There need to be clearly defined criteria for landlords. At the moment selection is left to the landlords' discretion. And we found that the municipal housing companies are just as bad as the private ones," said Palmstierna.

According to the tenants union the best solution would be for all rental apartments to go through the public housing service.

"If all available rental apartments were submitted to a central municipal housing service we would have greater insight into the process and could ensure that there were coherent rules for admission," said Palmstierna.

The union also found evidence of discrimination in a further 25 cases.

"In these instances it was a more subtle form of discrimination, where we noted differences in tone, attitude and language.

"We think the discrimination ombudsman will now take measures because this is clearly a really big problem," said Palmstierna.

In a statement on Monday morning, discrimination ombudsman Katri Linna agreed that the criteria for renting apartments are unclear and allow scope for arbitrary judgments and discrimination. The ombudsman is already working on a similar investigation of eleven housing companies and expects to be ready with her findings in June.

"Unfortunately the study carried out by the Swedish Union of Tenants shows that individuals with non-Swedish names are often at a disadvantage on the housing market.

"The fact that we do not have access to something as basic as equal opportunity for all, regardless of ethnic and religious background, when it comes to accommodation is not only alarming, it is also illegal," said Linna.

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