Cape Town owner’s contract with a real estate agency terminated after racial discrimination against a tenant
A Cape Town landlord’s contract with a real estate agency was terminated on Tuesday, October 19, after it emerged that the landlord had discriminated against a potential tenant on the basis of race. The real estate agent involved in the incident has also been suspended pending an internal investigation.
THE TENANT MAKES DISCRIMINATION PUBLIC
A potential tenant reached out to a real estate agent via WhatsApp around 3:18 p.m. on Monday, October 18 and inquired about a rental property in the heart of Cape Town’s central business district.
The fully furnished two-bedroom apartment is listed for R 17,000 per month and is available for a 12-month period, according to a real estate agent’s website.
The real estate agent – who has since been removed from the listing on the website – told the potential tenant that the apartment was available for rent for 12 months in a WhatsApp message.
The next day, after the tenant sent several follow-up messages, the real estate agent said, âThe client is race specific. I would love for you to rent her but she is very delicate.
When the tenant pointed out that being ‘race specific’ was unconstitutional, the real estate agent brushed aside his concerns and said, âIt’s not illegal how a landlord chooses their tenant. It’s not our fault â, before telling the tenant to find another apartment to rent.
âI decided to post the conversation when I shared the screenshots on a group chat with my friends where we were all horrified by the blatant violation of the Constitution and Rental Housing Act and [the estate agentâs] willful disregard, âsaid the tenant to South Africa.
RECENTLY LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENT
Tyson Properties, the real estate agency where the property is listed, told the tenant that the real estate agent he was dealing with had recently been fired from the company and was working with another agency in Cape Town – Live Real Estate. Despite this, the real estate agent in question was listed on the Tyson Properties website until late Tuesday afternoon and was still on the Property24 listing at the time of posting.
“I have received a number of phone calls from people at different levels of management at Tyson apologizing, showing sympathy and expressing shock at the incident,” said the tenant. He added that one of the agency’s employees said he was not surprised by the real estate agent’s behavior.
Tyson Properties managing partner Neil Abernathy told the tenant the real estate agency will consult with their lawyers and determine whether legal action can be taken against the real estate agent. The agency also offered to help the tenant. “They also offered to help me find a location if I was still interested in working with them.”
TERMINATION OF THE OWNER’S CONTRACT
At around 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the estate agent’s current employer, Live Real Estate – a Sea Point-based agency – acknowledged the incident in a statement.
âWe are aware of a current situation that is developing between one of our landlords and their tenant, which has been turned down on the basis of race,â Live Real Estate said. “â¦ We do not strongly tolerate this behavior because it goes against what we stand for, not only as a company but as South Africans.”
Live Real Estate has said it has terminated the contract with the owner and the real estate agent involved in the case has been suspended with immediate effect pending an internal investigation.
The agency also said it contacted the tenant and offered to help him “in any way. [it] can. âThe tenant said Live Real Estate basically offered to help him find a rental property, but would not accept his offer until the internal investigation is complete.
NEXT STEPS FOR THE TENANT
The tenant said he intended to apply to the Western Cape Housing Tribunal and the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EABB). He will also look at his legal options after the internal investigation into the real estate agent.
“I’m definitely not happy, the suspension is really a slap on the wrist if that’s all that goes and the owner is just fired, or whatever, just isn’t good enough, she can probably find just find another one [real estate agent] or do it itself and then the central problem is not really addressed, âsaid the tenant.
Last week, a Zimbabwean couple were shocked when a real estate agent told them that another landlord in Cape Town was refusing to sign their lease because they were black, according to a City press report.
The tenant said “this specific use of racism is almost certainly widespread” and believes more punitive measures are needed “otherwise more people of color will simply be excluded from life in cities where the majority of property is owned by people who can oppress them through it.
No one is allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, color, age, disability, religion, conscience, beliefs, culture, language and birth – this applies to advertising a place to say and negotiating about a lease with a potential tenant.
Each province has a housing court, which is under the authority of the provincial MEC for Human Settlements. The main function of the Housing Court is to investigate and determine the validity of complaints made by tenants, landlords or interest groups regarding unfair practices.
The Tribunal has many powers of inspection, investigation and inquiry and once the complaint is completed, the Tribunal can order various decisions.. Legal life lists as examples unfair practices, overcrowding, living conditions, etc. It is a crime not to comply with such a decision rendered by the Tribunal.
South Africa contacted Tyson Properties for comment. His response had not been received at the time of publication.