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Mystery shopper research 'proves landlords racially profile applicants' - claim

racial profiling landlords

Controversial research by Generation Rent has claimed that white people are 36% more likely to receive a positive response when applying to rent on SpareRoom than black people.

Profiles where the user appears to be white are also 17% more likely than black profiles to receive any response at all, according to a UK-wide research project analysing more than 200 properties. The responses were from a mixture of landlords and letting agents advertising flats, houses and single rooms.

Two profiles were created on the rental platform using artificial intelligence images, identical in all but name and ethnicity.

Messages asking to view properties were sent within minutes of each other from both profiles, but the white-facing account routinely received very different responses.

It cites one response to the white-facing profile as: “Hi Lizzie, can you tell me a bit about how long you would be looking for the room, do you work local etc. Many thanks.” Compared to a response to the black-facing profile: “Hello, sorry it’s just been let.”


Another response to the white-facing profile was: “Good afternoon. Do you work or study? Who is the property for?” While the response to the black-facing profile was: “Good afternoon. Sorry we do not know when we can do a viewing at this property. Many thanks.”

Tilly Smith (pictured) campaigns and partnerships officer at Generation Rent, says it’s extremely concerning to see racism and discrimination at play, preventing people of colour from accessing safe and secure housing.

“The lack of homes for minority ethnic renters to move into is not only extremely stressful and distressing when looking for somewhere to move or when facing eviction, but also forces many to have to endure poor conditions in the properties they can get access to,” she adds.

“Until there are enough affordable and social homes for people to live in, biases – whether unconscious or not – will continue to deny people the homes they deserve.”

Shelter released similar research in January.


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