Landlord Turns Down Possible Tenant After Learning He's From Pakistan

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jul. 22 2020, Updated 11:45 a.m. ET

Landing a new apartment is a hard thing. You have to beat out other applicants, pass credit and reference checks, provide proof of income, and strike the landlord as a responsible tenant. But it's even harder to land an apartment when you have to deal with overt racism and discrimination.

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One Twitter user, Abbas Ali, shared the text exchange he had with a landlord about an apartment he was potentially interested in renting. At first, their exchange was pleasant, and the landlord seemed happy to set up a time for him to come see the place. 

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But once the landlord asked where Abbas was from, he knew it was over. "My heart sinks when landlords ask this question because I already know I'm not getting the place then," he wrote on Twitter. 

And in fact, the landlord's tune totally changes once he learns that Abbas is originally from Pakistan. 

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The second he learns this new information, the apartment, which was available not hours before, is suddenly not anymore. Could it have been rented out in that time frame? Perhaps. But Abbas has clearly dealt with this on multiple occasions. He wasn't surprised.

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It's worth noting that this is not in the United States. Many jumped into the comments to say that this kind of discrimination is illegal and that this landlord should be reported. But Abbas appears to be looking for an apartment in Dubai, where things are much different. This sort of discrimination based on ethnicity is not only commonplace but legal in some parts of the world.

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Even if Dubai is different, racism and discrimination in renting are real issues all over the world. Even though there are technically laws in place in the United States and elsewhere to try to prevent this kind of behavior, it's still rampant and can be hard to prove without evidence of repeated offenses. 

If you live in the U.S. and you are white, you don't have to worry about your skin color being a factor when you go to rent an apartment. People of color do. All the time. It's just one example of how engrained and systemic racism is in this country.

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One Twitter user shared a story about her experience with racism in apartment hunting, and it is so incredibly frustrating to read, let alone to live through. Her story is quite similar to Abbas'. Once the landlord saw the color of her skin, they completely ignored her and then claimed the apartment had been rented.

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Of course, some people jumped into the replies of Abbas' tweet to say that if the landlord owns the building, he can rent it to whomever he wants. But that sort of thinking comes dangerously close to forgiving racism.

As one Twitter user puts it, "For everyone saying, 'It's his stuff!' I tell you this. Just because something that's immoral is legal, it doesn't mean it's right or 'OK' to do. We can still call him out for his racism and his discriminatory behavior. In the end the decision is his. But that doesn't make it correct."

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