Are all landlords bad people
How I discriminated against people because I thought like a landlord
I'm moving soon to a larger apartment on the outskirts of Bielefeld. I swap closely lined up houses, neighbors who have remained unfamiliar, running car engines and slamming front doors for popular residential areas, a view of the Teutoburg Forest, a view of the neighboring balcony and peaceful sleep. I'm just 30.
In order to find new tenants, I placed an ad, central two-room apartment with a garden near the Nordpark, gave the details, mentioned the advantages, kept silent about the sleepless nights and chose a term of 14 days to get enough serious inquiries: One small selection wouldn't be bad. But it turned out differently. That evening I found 72 inquiries in my inbox, and that was just the beginning. As a reminder: this is Bielefeld.
Looking for an apartment is more than just looking for an apartment
I started reading. People sent long messages, gave private information, told life stories, plans for the future, fates, tragedies. There were the brothers who fled from Syria and want to start their studies soon. There was a daughter and a father, but not a mother because she died of cancer. There was the employee of the offender assistance who is looking for an apartment for a released prisoner. The single mother of a girl who is still in hospital because she is a premature baby. There was the locksmith. The Chinese student. The Rewe employee. The 30-year-old who likes to read and jog. The doctor. The divorced woman.
[Also on ze.tt: How the first apartment together destroyed our relationship]
And me. As I read all of this, I understood two things. An apartment is much more than an apartment. An apartment is a framework for the community in which we want to live. A basis for starting a new phase of life. A haven when we want to escape the ruins of failed relationships. The second thing I understood: something had changed all of a sudden after I had clicked on “Post an ad”. I was in a position of power. I had to sort out. But who?
Landlords want a harmonious coexistence
There are groups that have a hard time in the housing market. Migrants, for example. Social science studies show that migrants from Turkey and the Middle East as well as Eastern Europeans are severely disadvantaged, while EU migrants and second-generation migrants who speak German without an accent are discriminated significantly less. Just did a research of mirror and BR once again proves that a foreign name alone creates significantly worse chances. Social status also plays a decisive role. Hartz IV recipients often have problems getting a good apartment. But couples with children or single parents also often have a harder time.
So who do landlords want, according to which criteria do they decide? “Basically, of course, the tenant must be able to pay the rent. A positive Schufa information is also an important criterion, ”says Julia Wagner from the owners' association Haus und Grund. There are also many so-called soft factors that should not be underestimated: "The landlord will make sure that a tenant fits into the tenant structure of the house, because he is interested in a harmonious coexistence." Sympathy also plays a major role, says Wagner.
I ignored many requests
I also ask about the discrimination against migrants. “In Germany the anti-discrimination law applies. The private landlords adhere to this, ”is their answer, also with a view to the accommodation of many refugees by private landlords.
And what did i do? Did I comply with the anti-discrimination law? If I'm being honest, no. The selection went something like this: I ignored requests in bad German. First discrimination. I would have liked to have promised a gay couple Then I thought of the other residents of the house, whom I consider to be very conservative. How would you like that? My decision was made quickly and it felt bad: I wouldn't go with them if they wanted the apartment. I patronized my household and discriminated for the second time. As someone who sees himself as open-minded and tolerant. As the last to discriminate against others based on origin, biography and social status. And now that. With a click on "Maybe" I sorted out further. The offender thing seemed too complicated to me. And some fates are simply too big for the 56 square meters of this apartment.
[Also on ze.tt: Would you live on six square meters for 100 euros rent?]
I invite people who are just like me
I made it easy for myself. Maybe landlords are comfortable. They appreciate what they can assess, what is uncomplicated, what sounds safe. Young, German, heterosexual student couple with financial security from their parents, for example. I invited two such couples. So I instinctively acted as many landlords did. I made it easy for two couples who don't have a hard time in the housing market. Maybe because they're like me. Perhaps because your request was formulated correctly and because it created trust. Maybe because I did not realize that my power is also the power to help a single mother, the family without a mother or the Syrian brothers. In short, to do something useful with my position of power.
Instead, thoughtlessly and in a hurry, I lowered my thumb. Just like many other housing providers, they also lower their thumbs when they come into contact with unfamiliar names, a lack of language skills, difficult biographies and uncertain career prospects. But I promise one thing: I'll do better next time.
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