Racial discrimination
in the housing market


Results of a representative survey

- Fact sheet on the research project -

Assessment of the prevalence of racial discrimination

  • 83 per cent of those interviewed are of the opinion that racially-motivated discrimination, based on ethnicity or foreign origin, occurs rather frequently when house hunting in Germany. The housing market is therefore the area of life where most of the interviewees expect problems due to racial discrimination.
  • Almost two thirds of the people interviewed also assume that racial discrimination in public transport (67 per cent) as well as in access to restaurants, clubs or discos (61 per cent) occurs rather frequently.

Personal experiences of discrimination

  • About 15 per cent of all those interviewed who had been searching for a flat within the last ten years (n=546) experienced racial discrimination. Amongst those interviewed with a "migration background", the proportion of people who experienced racial discrimination is significantly higher (35 per cent).
  • Five per cent experienced discrimination based on religion or ideology and eight per cent felt discriminated against because of their age. 14 per cent also reported discrimination based on their social status - a characteristic which is not yet protected by the General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz - AGG).
  • 37 per cent of all those interviewed who experienced discrimination in the housing market in the last ten years report discrimination based on discriminatory housing advertisements. About one third (32 per cent) state they did not get a flat or a house because they belong to a disadvantaged group and 16 per cent were asked to pay higher rents or purchase prices than others. Ten per cent experienced insults or verbal abuse.
  • Among the interviewees who experienced racially-motivated discrimination, more people state they did not get a property due to belonging to a disadvantaged group (53 per cent) or that higher rents or higher purchase prices were demanded (25 per cent).
  • The majority (56 per cent) reports that the discrimination came from individuals marketing only one or few properties. 22 per cent state that discrimination was caused by a private housing company.
  • Almost two thirds of those questioned (64 per cent) who experienced discrimination in the housing market did not contact an authority in order to seek advice, to report the incident or to make a complaint. However, 21 per cent of the people surveyed made direct contact with the person or authority that caused the discrimination and ten per cent contacted the tenants' association Mieterbund and other organisations for the protection of tenants' rights.

Possible measures to protect against racial discrimination

  • A relatively large number of the interviewees have themselves reservations regarding immigrants as potential tenants or neighbours. Reservations increase the further the situation reaches into the private sphere. Accordingly, 29 per cent state they have strong or very strong reservations to an immigrant moving in next door. 41 per cent of the people questioned have reservations about the idea of renting out a flat to an immigrant. Regarding this, the legal report by Thüsing & Vianden clarifies that even in the case of close proximity in connection with rentals such as using living space on the same premises must not lead to the protection against discrimination giving way to the protection of privacy.
  • 58 per cent of the people questioned believe that existing measures for the protection against racial discrimination in the housing market are insufficient. The majority, 68 per cent, approves a tightening of the legal ban.
  • About half of the interviewees (47 per cent) state that they have never heard of the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG). This shows that more information on the rights and possible options for action in the event of discrimination is needed.