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Woman loses flat 'because she was Roma'

The Local/rm · 9 Dec 2011, 08:05

Published: 09 Dec 2011 08:05 GMT+01:00

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“The other tenants would move out if I moved in,” said Tuija Svart to Sveriges Television (SVT).

Svart and her teenage daughter had returned to Sweden after staying for a year in Finland, and had been looking for a flat near her other daughter.

She went to look at an advertised apartment and decided that she liked the flat.

According to SVT, she then signed a contract, got the keys and changed her address over the internet. But while in the moving van, the landlord rang her and said that she couldn’t move in after all.

“He said that I had a different background,” Svart told SVT.

Svart told SVT that it was the first time she felt discriminated against in Sweden for being a member of the Roma people.

Her daughter Samira was also upset about what happened.

“Mainly I felt angry. And sad as well. It felt a bit like if my dreams were crushed,” she told SVT.

Fearing what would happen otherwise, Svart returned the keys to the landlord. But she also reported the incident to the police and to the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO).

Then the landlord changed his tune and said that the reason he didn’t want to accept her as a tenant was that she didn’t have a valid passport, that her car was registered in Finland and that she had no previous address in Sweden, according to SVT.

However, despite the legal experts at the local authority finding in Tuija Svart’s favour, their hands are tied as Svart sent back the keys without coercion.

However, police are still investigating if Svart has been the victim of discrimination.

Story continues below…

“We have spoken to the landlord and he has been allowed to present his side of the story. I have read the statements and see no reason to drop the preliminary investigation at this point,“ said prosecutor Niclas Wargren to SVT.

At the Equality Ombudsman they are also currently looking into the matter.

“We’re investigating it right now and are collecting witness statements from those involved," said Lars Tornberg at DO to SVT.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:17 December 9, 2011 by spo10
The contract was already signed but the owner changed his mind because she is a Roma and not because she didn't have any valid identification. You wouldn't just sign a contract without presenting any credentials now do you?
12:11 December 9, 2011 by ?????
If the woman was from Sweden as the title says why would she need a passport anyway? Hope the other tenants get a stinky noisy thief as their new neighbour. That'll teach them! :D
12:17 December 9, 2011 by gabeltoon
This is discrimination to me. It said that the woman had returned to SWEDEN after a year in FINLAND.Surely this is proof that she had a previous address in SWEDEN ?? Would you treat me the same, i am SCOTTISH and white if i came to SWEDEN would i be denied an apartment on the bases that i am not SWEDISH. If i entered the country i would have to have the correct documents for entry.Did the woman have the correct documents for entry or did she enter illegally ???
12:29 December 9, 2011 by big5
Swedes don't like gypsies, that's a fact. This sort of thing will keep happening.
12:30 December 9, 2011 by flintis
The landlord is correct & the idiot interferring do gooders are wrong

# she didn't have a valid passport, that her car was registered in Finland and that she had no previous address in Sweden#

Without any form of identity you cannot sign any legal document, try booking a hotel room without ID or assurance
12:31 December 9, 2011 by engagebrain
Carolina Correia 'She had no passport, = no contract'

No, agreeing a contract does not depend on having a passport.

, she has been treated very badly.
12:59 December 9, 2011 by Gubbe
To echo the standard Swedish bureaucracy - A passport is only a travel document, not a form of identification.

Not having a passport is not a crime, or a legitimate reason to cancel a signed contract. Nowhere does the article state, or imply that the woman has no form of identification, only that she had no passport. You'd kind of think that would be a good thing, as it would be harder for her to flee the country without one of those pesky travel documents.

If she has a car, registered in Finland, one would expect that she a driver's license, which, unlike a passport, IS a form of identification, and technically, also a travel document for the pedantics among us.
13:05 December 9, 2011 by ochena
i know how Swedes treat when you are a outsider for getting a apartment. i have lots of experiences not to get any apartment in last 5 years. to me, the landlord probably finds someone who would pay more, perhaps. I really appreciate if goverment impose tax on second hand housing renting...then the most of the problem will be solved...in somehow tht's income for landlord...IMPOSE TAX on sencond hand rental income.....
13:29 December 9, 2011 by Åskar
@Carolina Correia

She doesn't need a passport in Sweden.
14:38 December 9, 2011 by spo10
@Carolina Correia

On the 5th paragraph, it was stated that she signed a contract but as soon as the landlord knew she was a Roma, he changed his mind. He's a bully and a racist imo.
14:42 December 9, 2011 by Migga
She cancled the contract herself when she willingly gave up the keys. She is the one to blame for discriminating herself.
15:28 December 9, 2011 by Boar
I think it would have been hard time for her even if she tried to enter the apartment and stay along. She would have hard time with her neighbours while using the laundry or getting in and out. Even for her daughter.

It's not the Swedes to be blamed. The neighbours are the ones who sent the rumours. We don't know who those MFuk's are. It could be immigrants too. It could be anyone. If you observe carefully, the landlord changed his verdict. Because, he might have told one of the neighbours and that person in turn told another one. I am sure it is an immigrant swede who is to be blamed. Because, Swedes do not know anything about Romas. If they hate romas means then they hate all immigrants. I don't think so. I myself being an immigrant would blame another immigrant. I would never blame Swede for unnecessarily.
15:48 December 9, 2011 by foxpur
"that she didn't have a valid passport,"

This is NOT the same as No Passport, it just means it may not be relevant in Sweden. I was blocked by a landlord because I didn't have a Swedish passport at the time, claiming I too didn't have a "valid" passport. I was somewhay amazed as he didn't have one either. However, it's not a Passport but a PN the determines allowable residence, again, using myself several years ago, I have a non-EU passport but and permanent resident Personal number. (that has changed for me as I am a citizen now)

So his complaint that far is invalid. Only Migrationsverket can made that choice, not a landlord. A car may be registered out of country up ti 6 months, again, landlord is wrong trying to clain it as a reason.

Lastly, she was a returning Swedish resident, so she "had no previous address in Sweden" was also incorrect (and frankly, irrelivant as the contract had already been agreed).

And Migga:

"She cancled the contract herself when she willingly gave up the keys. She is the one to blame for discriminating herself."

That was one of the stupidest things I've read all night. She was bullied into it by a unscrupulous, spineless landlord.
16:13 December 9, 2011 by Boar
The fact is the Landlord gave the keys. And, then later asked to return the keys. Why?

Because, an immigrant told other tenants that Romas are thieves. And, that immigrant spread the news to other tenants. The tenants gave pressure to the landlord. That's it. Landlord was afraid of tenants and changed his mind.

In Sweden in each and every building there is at least an immigrant Swede living. Besides people without passports also get accommodations through Migrationsverket. It's not just Swedes living in whole Swedish buildings.

Nobody ever asked me passport in Sweden myself being an immigrant. I even do not look white. I even do not speak proper Swedish. But, still I got a job and drivers Licence.

It's not just particular that Swedes are afraid of Romas. They have bad reputation in south and east of Europe. But not in Sweden. I am sure that particular immigrant knows much about Romas. He is the one who spread and made such a mess. I believe the ones who want to leave the building can leave immediately and let the woman and her daughter stay. If that particular immigrant want to get out of the building then it is fine. Good for everyone.

PS. It's funny to know. I never heard any Swede speaking about a Roma. But, I heard a lot of immigrants speaking about Romas (As if the immigrants own Sweden).
16:34 December 9, 2011 by MarshaLynn
Equality Ombudsman? Wow, such Big Brotherism. Glad we don't have that in the USA, though liberals here are certainly trying. And what is a Roma? Is that like a gypsy?
16:52 December 9, 2011 by Boar
Yes. So called Gypsies are the Romas, who used to be nomadic tribes long time ago. But, couldn't reach Sweden. Generally speaking they are mostly in East Europe, and most of Asia. Anybody can be a thief. It's not that Swedish prisons are filled with only Gypsies.
16:57 December 9, 2011 by mbss
Hard to know the real story here. I tend to think that Swedes in general are very open, respectful and empathetic. But, they are also careful and pragmatic.

I have not had many "encounters" with Romani people, but I make absolutely no judgements about entire groups of people! On the other hand, I can say that the one negative experience I have had in Sweden in terms of "bad behaviour" came while I was very sick and waiting in the emergency room at St. Göran's hospital around midnight. I was trying to sleep a bit in the rather uncomfortable chair when a very large group of people (I counted 28) came in talking loudly. Several came in and out of the entry, to smoke--and subsequently let cold air in. When a security person asked why they were all there, one man said, "We are Romers and we stick together." The security man then said that a few of them could stay but that there was not room for all of them and that there needed to be chairs available for emergency room patients. The "spokesperson" for the group immediately said that they were being discriminated against simply because they were Romani. Up until that moment, I didn't even know they were Romers--simply a rude bunch of people who took no consideration for where they were. I must say that I was very disappointed to here this person used the "discrimination card" for a situation that was clearly a matter of "behaviour" that was not consistent with how the environment in an emergency room should be--for all concerned, including me and other patients. It is true that Romani people place family and extended family above all else, but my experience with this group in the hospital gave me a very bad feeling. No matter what one's cultural practices are, it is always appropriate to be empathetic to others around and not to call "discrimination" whenever one does not get his/her way.
17:22 December 9, 2011 by sarah_b
Why was the landlord in the moving van?

18:14 December 9, 2011 by jomamas
The Roma are roving criminals.

Simple as that.

If a group of people doesn't want criminals living in their building this is just fine.

Europe needs to give the Roma a homeland and fence them in there, perhaps they can learn some skills other than stealing.

In a few generations, people will be more than happy to let them in the building.
19:24 December 9, 2011 by zooeden
Yeah well whatever, a Taliban comes and wants a flat you say clearly no, a frippin` greenlander comes and wants to rent the flat you say no too, there comes the Roma and wants the room you say no and there goes the haitian voodoo priest says he wants the flat you say no thanx.

Until this people prove they can behave more or less well then you are more than welcome!!!
21:34 December 9, 2011 by mbss
I'd like to think that this could be a thoughtful forum for discussion and a bit more respectful. It is grossly unfair to categorize between 4 and 10 million Romani in Europe as "roving criminals". I'd also like to think that The Local might attract more thoughtful readers who might add to others' reading enjoyment through these discussions. C'mon guys, really!
00:36 December 10, 2011 by acidcritic
By mishandling and discriminating non europeans Europeans are playing with fire. The birh rate of non european peoples and their economic growth rates are so high in comparation with those of Europe that sooner or later will be europeans who will suffer discrimination.
08:02 December 10, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Everything seems to be in order here.
10:30 December 10, 2011 by VicTaulic
We all know the real story here, don't we? Just a mother and her daughter? Sure, so they get in and things are fine, and then the boyfriend moves in, and the boyfriend's kids. What about the sister and her kids? And they like to talk loud and have fights cook smelly things with lots of onions. And everyone will be running around the halls and doing the gypsy tambourine thing and begging for money. And then all of a sudden the police will notice and increase in break-ins and petty crime in the area, and no one will have a clue as to what caused it, will they?
20:40 December 11, 2011 by HenryPollard
A girl I know from Karlkrona was set to move into a new apartment last month and at the last minute the landlord changed his mind after Googling her and finding some zany youtube videos.

Where was all your outrage for that? END ZANY DISCRIMINATION NOW!!!....

Landlords should be free to rent to whoever they like and I would most certainly never let a Roma live in one of my properties. One only needs to look to their 'contributions' to life in Göteborg in the past few years to see what a cancerous people they are.
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