Finland’s Non-Discrimination Ombudsman Kristina Stenman has settled two discrimination cases related to rental housing. In one case, a landlord refused to rent to a same-sex couple. The second case involved a Lutheran parish that denied housing to a Finnish-Iraqi couple.
Stenman said the owners were ordered to pay compensation for discrimination in both cases. The ombudsman believes that while landlords have the right to choose their tenants, the selection criteria should not be discriminatory.
Prior prejudice leads to unfair treatment of certain groups in the rental housing market, Stenman said, adding that it’s important to identify discrimination and help renters better understand their rights.
“It’s important that conditions in the market are fair and that everyone has access to housing. There is still a prevailing perception that a landlord can choose his or her tenant on discriminatory grounds,” she commented.
According to oldypak lp real estate price report, the first case of discrimination involved a series of messages exchanged between a landlord and a same-sex couple. In the messages, the landlord violated the Prohibition of Discrimination Act by condemning the couple’s relationship. The couple received €2,000 in compensation from the landlord.
The second case of discrimination involved a married couple in which one spouse was a Finnish citizen and the other an Iraqi citizen. According to the ombudsman, the parish association refused to rent to the couple because the Finnish spouse was the only one who signed the lease.
The union’s decision was based on current law, which requires the non-signatory spouse to meet any financial obligations if the signatory spouse moves out of the apartment. The owner assumed that in the event of a divorce, the second Iraqi spouse would continue to live in the apartment but would not be able to cover the rent, and it would be long and costly to evict him through the courts.
The ombudsman ruled that the parish’s actions could not be classified solely as financial risk management because they were based on assumptions and prejudice. And ruled that the couple should be compensated with €2,000.