Housing discrimination and abuse of migrants and asylum seekers in Finland

by , under W. Che

THE STORY WAS UPDATED

Migrant Tales insight: Investigative reporting by Migrant Tales’ W. Che exposed cases of housing discrimination and abuse of migrants in Helsinki and elsewhere. According to W. Che, foreigners who help new migrants to find apartments may work with a Finnish person, who makes calls to a prospective landlord. Even if the apartment is being rented for 550 euros, the person may sweeten the deal by offering, without the consent of the future tenant, 750 euros for rent.

When an asylum seeker gets a residence permit, he or she is offered up to about 1,000 euros to buy furniture. Sometimes this money does not go to buying furniture but to pay the middleman when searching for housing.

It is interesting to note why some authorities like social workers appear to care less about defending the rights of migrants when they search for housing.

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Most immigrants find it very difficult to search for a rental apartment because they do not have the means and enough language skills to search for housing and make calls.

With the increased number of new immigrants that are looking for new homes in the capital area or larger cities in Finland, there came the world of underground rental brokers who demand at least a month rent for finding the new immigrant an apartment.

Most of the rented apartments are in bad condition or awaiting renovation like water pipes maintenance in the near future. The broker neglects to mention it to the new immigrant in the agreement and other important matters like rental period.

Many of these brokers work and get paid in black and naturally don’t give any receipts for their services. In most cases, they ask for the sum of money even before finding the apartment. Some state that they will return the advance if they find an apartment for the prospective tenant.

CASE 1

Ahmed,* who rented an apartment in the Helsinki neighborhood of Hertoniemi through a broker that took 750 euros without a receipt ( in black, as usual ) was shocked after three months of settling down in his new apartment that he had to leave due to water pipes maintenance. After reviewing the agreement, it turned out the agreement was only for 3 months.

CASE 2

Raed,* who was happy to move to his new flat in Vantaa, after paying 1000 euros in black to a broker, was surprised the next day when workers who entered the apartment started disassembling the kitchen cabinets and floor. Raed had to sleep in a corner of the apartment for a month until the renovation was over.

Renovating Raed’s apartment.

CASE 3

Ali,* who paid 1,500 euros to a street broker, rented an apartment with his wife and four children. After six months an invoice for 30 euros/person from the landlord surprised him demanding payment for gas consumption. The kitchen range works on electricity. The flat does not use gas at all.

*The real names of the persons in the three cases were changed because they spoke under condition of anonymity.

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