Barcelona real estate firm sanctioned over racial discrimination of Moroccan renter

City council fines company and landlord €45,000 in groundbreaking decision

Redouane Mehdi standing in front of Barcelona's Office for Non-Discrimination (by Eli Don)
Redouane Mehdi standing in front of Barcelona's Office for Non-Discrimination (by Eli Don) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 6, 2021 02:28 PM

The city council of Barcelona has sanctioned a real estate firm and a landlord for racially discriminating against a Moroccan renter, a groundbreaking decision tackling racism in the housing market.

It’s the first time that local authorities fine a real estate company over racist practices, an infraction recognized by Catalonia’s 18/2007 law regulating the right to housing.

The company and the landlord will have to pay a fine of 45,000 euros.

“The Moroccan community suffers a lot, and I hope my case serves as an example for all the immigrants,” said Redouane Mehdi, the Moroccan man who was rejected as a tenant on racist grounds. 

The events took place last year, when Mehdi expressed his interest in renting an apartment in the Barceloneta neighborhood. He was looking for a place close to his job and found a property that he thought was suitable for him. 

Despite handing in the required documents and proving his solvency, the real estate agency did not answer his petition. 

Mehdi states: “Every time I called they did not answer me because they had my number identified, after many attempts I sent them an email demanding to delete my personal data.”

He finally received a response from the agency arguing that another candidate had been chosen. 

In order to find out the truth, a white-passing friend of Mehdi tried to rent the apartment and in this case, the real estate agent manifested his willingness to do it after showing his solvency. 

“He is Argentine and met the requirements just like I did, the difference is that he is a white man with a European surname” said Mehdi. 

Afterwards, the victim took the case to the Office for Non-Discrimination (OND), where it was studied and analyzed by the Discipline and Anti-Harassment Unit of the Municipal Institute of Housing and Rehabilitation (IMHAB). They finally stated: “We identified that it was a case of racist disrimination and we had evidence.”