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Rental discrimination

Verified 30 March 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The owner of a dwelling has the right to choose his tenant from among the various candidates. However, he must be careful about the selection criteria he uses. It is prohibited to refuse a tenant on the basis of certain criteria considered discriminatory (national or ethnic origin, physical appearance, sex, age, sexual orientation, etc.). If you are discriminated against by leasing, you can file a complaint against the owner.

To select a tenant from the candidates, the landlord has the right to rely on objective criteria relating to his financial situation.

Examples: income, presence of a person on bail, employment status (CDI, CDD).


in order to verify the income situation of the tenant, the landlord does not have the right to claim certain private documents like a statement of account.

Certain criteria should not be used to select a tenant, as they are discriminatory:

  • Age
  • Physical Appearance
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Domiciliation
  • Health status
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Gender identity
  • Spoken language (ability to speak in a language other than French)
  • Place of residence
  • Morals
  • Name
  • Philosophical Opinions
  • Political opinions
  • Sexual orientation
  • Origin
  • Particular vulnerability linked to the economic situation
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Alleged race, ethnicity, nationality: membership or non-membership
  • Religion: belief or belonging or non-belonging
  • Sex
  • Family status
  • Trade Unionism

An instant messenger (chat) allows you to chat with a police officer or a member of the gendarmerie. Chat history can be deleted from your computer, mobile phone or tablet at any time.

Report discrimination

If you have applied for accommodation in the private park and feel that you have been discriminated against in rental, you can seek various remedies.

You can file a complaint against the landlord, and possibly the real estate agent, if they selected candidates based on discriminatory criteria.

The complaint must be lodged not later than six years after the event.

You must prove that your non-selection was made solely because of discriminatory criteria. Without waiting for the investigation of the police or the gendarmerie, you can collect any form of evidence: testimonies, letters...

The practice of testingHowever, where a person impersonates a prospective tenant to verify that he will be discriminated against, he may be admitted as evidence by the courts.

On the spot

You must go to a police station or a gendarme brigade of your choice.

Who shall I contact

You may not be refused the receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then forwarded to the public prosecutor by the police or gendarmerie.

By mail

You can file a complaint with the public prosecutor.

We need to send a free-form letter the court of law of the place of the offense or of the domicile of the offender.

Who shall I contact

The letter should specify the following:

  • Your marital status and full contact information (address and telephone number)
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Name of the alleged perpetrator if known (otherwise, the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or definitive estimate of the damage
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, miscellaneous invoices, findings ...
  • Willingness to take civil action

File a complaint with the public prosecutor

Who shall I contact

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, by simple letter or by letter followed.

You can also file your complaint directly at the courthouse.

In any case, a receipt is given to you as soon as the Public Prosecutor's Office has registered your complaint.

The discriminator (owner, real estate agent) can be sentenced to up to:

  • 3 years in prison,
  • and €45,000 of fine.

You can go to the Defender of Rights.

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On the spot

You can make an appointment with a representative of the Defender of Rights.

By mail

Who shall I contact

Referral to the Advocate may lead to three solutions:

  • Mediation : appointed by the Defender of Rights, the Ombudsman hears the persons concerned. Mediation may not exceed 3 months. This period may be renewed once.
  • A transaction :: the Defender of Rights proposes one or more sanctions to the perpetrator (payment of a fine, compensation to the victim, publicity of the facts). In case of agreement, the transaction must be validated by the public prosecutor.
  • A lawsuit If the Defender of Rights becomes aware of facts which may constitute an offense or if the author refuses the transaction, the Defender of Rights shall bring the matter before the Public Prosecutor.


the referral to the Defender of Rights does not suspend the prescription. The deadline for filing a complaint remains limited to 6 years.

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