Discrimination in housing

Verified 10 May 2024 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

A landlord refuses to rent you his accommodation because of your family situation? This is discrimination. One lessor has the right to choose its tenant from among different candidates. Nevertheless, he must be careful about the selection criteria he uses. In order to reject a candidate, it is prohibited to use a criterion considered discriminatory (origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, etc.). We present you with the information you need to know.

Discrimination for rent is the fact, for the owner of a dwelling or his representative (example: real estate agent), to choose a tenant by rejecting the application of one or more persons on the basis of unfair criteria and prohibited by law (example: origin, family status, etc.)

Certain criteria should not be used to select a tenant. These are the following reasons:

  • Origin
  • Sex
  • Family status
  • Pregnancy
  • Physical Appearance
  • Special vulnerabilities linked to the economic situation
  • Name
  • Place of residence
  • Health status
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Disability
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Morals
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Age
  • Political opinions
  • Trade union activities
  • Whistleblower quality
  • Facilitator of whistleblower or persons connected with a whistleblower
  • Spoken language (ability to speak in a language other than French)
  • Ethnicity
  • Nation
  • Alleged breed
  • Religion 

Please note

It is also prohibited to refuse to sell housing on the basis of a discriminatory criterion.

To select a tenant from the candidates, the landlord or his representative (example: real estate agent) must rely on objective criteria (e.g. the financial situation of the applicant).

In making an election, the lessor or his representative may ask the applicant for evidence to prove his identity, professional status and resources. For example, it could be an ID, an employment contract, and a pay slip.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to claim certain private documents such as a statement of account or a marriage contract.


If the owner claims a unauthorized evidence, he may be fined up to €3,000.

The owner's representative may also be sentenced to this penalty if he himself has requested unauthorized documents.

There is another situation in which the owner can dismiss a candidate without it being considered discrimination. Indeed, the lessor may refuse the application of a person who wishes to engage in a professional activity within a residential dwelling.

If you are a victim of discrimination in housing, you must gather evidence suggesting that the choice of owner was based on a discriminatory ground. These may include testimonies, written exchanges with the owner, etc.

It is also possible to the testing method. This method consists in comparing the results obtained by 2 types of candidates whose files are identical in all respects, except on the characteristic tested (origin, family situation, etc.). For example, you test the owner by submitting the files of 2 people with the same income level and the same work situation but whose origin is different.

As a victim of rental discrimination, you can enter for free the Defender of Rights.

You can contact him by phone or online.

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By telephone

You can contact the French Defender of Rights at 3928 from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 7 pm (excluding public holidays).


You can contact the lawyers of the Defender of Rights by instant messaging (chat).

Contact the Defender of Rights via instant messaging

Access is provided for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Anti-discrimination - solution for the deaf and hard of hearing

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 renewable once
  • A transaction :: the Defender of Rights proposes one or more sanctions to the perpetrator (payment of a fine, compensation to the victim, publication of the facts in the press, etc.). In case of agreement, the transaction must be validated by the public prosecutor
  • A lawsuit If the Defender of Rights becomes aware of facts that may constitute an offense or if the author refuses the transaction, the Defender of Rights must bring the matter before the Public Prosecutor.


If you contact the Defender of Rights, you can also file a complaint within 6 years of the facts. Thus, the Defender of Rights will be able to intervene before criminal courts to present its analysis of the case.

The victim of discrimination in housing may warn the police or gendarmerie by instant messaging.

This cat dialog with a police officer or gendarme trained for this type of infringement. This professional will help the victim in his efforts and can guide her if she wishes to file a complaint.

At any time, the chat history can be cleared.

Report discrimination

If you have been denied housing on a discriminatory ground, you can lodge a complaint against the discriminator (e.g. the owner or real estate agent representing the discriminator).

The complaint triggers a police investigation. This investigation may be followed by a possible judgment of the perpetrator by the correctional court.

The deadline for filing a complaint is 6 years from the event.

The complaint can be filed at any police station or gendarmerie brigade.

Who shall I contact
Who shall I contact

You can get a lawyer to help you.

Who shall I contact

Please note

These rules apply only to private stock housing. Candidates who are denied a social housing on a discriminatory ground must directly refer the matter to the Defender of Rights.

The discriminator (e.g. owner, real estate agent) may be sentenced to up to:

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

In addition, the victim of discrimination in housing may ask for damages to the perpetrator.

Please note

If discrimination is practiced by the owner, the real estate agent cannot be held criminally liable. Only the landlord can be convicted.

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