In an undercover investigation for Inside Out, a reporter posed as a landlord wanting to rent out a flat but not to black tenants. This is, obviously, illegal under the Equality Act 2010 (not to mention the Race Relations Act 1965), but the BBC found ten letting agents who would 'get round' the rules, either by telling black househunters that the flat had been taken, or not calling back to arrange a viewing. The BBC put this to the test, sending white and black researchers to ask about the property. Sure enough, the white researcher got a viewing while the black researcher was told the flat was gone.
This being the situation now, we think it will only get worse if government proposals to make private landlords check the immigration status of prospective tenants go ahead. There are fears that private landlords – often individuals, not all exactly with tenants' best interests at heart – will just refuse to rent to anyone who doesn't 'look British'. The BBC's discovery shows there are plenty of agencies out there who will help such landlords out.
You can watch the investigation on Inside Out, BBC London, 14 October at 7.30pm and for seven days after on iPlayer.
Photo by ca1951rr from the Londonist Flickr pool