Cape Town resident, Pol Osei, 26, took to social media after a local landlord declined the rental applicant a lease because of his race. According to the real estate agent on the job, the owners are “race specific”.
Screenshots of a conversation between the prospective tenant and estate agent Gabriella Johnson went viral on social media for all the wrong reasons.
Osei contacted Johnson to view a R17 000 Fountain Suites apartment located in the Cape Town CBD, reports IOL. However, upon discovery of the applicants race, she stopped replying to his WhatsApp messages. After Osei followed up, it became clear that he would be denied a viewing because of his race.
A formal complaint registered by Osei has resulted the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) conducting research to determine the extent of how pervasive rental racism is in Cape Town.
— Pol Osei (@pol_osei) October 21, 2021
The role of the EAAB is to regulate and control certain activities of estate agents in the public interest; and for incidental matters.
EAAB chief executive Mamodupi Mohlahla said that both the owner of the property and the authorised agency are bordering on criminality by knowingly leasing apartments to whites only.
It’s a criminal offence for landlords and estate agents to discriminate against black applicants, and it is time to prosecute and punish them harshly https://t.co/YJlpoOPgUV pic.twitter.com/cTSuxwglmg
— Pierre de Vos ⚖️ (@pierredevos) October 21, 2021
Mohlahla acknowledged in a statement that discrimination is strictly prohibited and that the board takes matters such as these “very seriously.”
He added that “a thorough investigation into not only the agency and the agent but also to ascertain the extent of rental racism in the province” will be pursued.
Following major backlash on social media, Gabriella Johnson did issue an apology. This came after she told Osei that it’s “not illegal for landlords to choose their tenants” on WhatsApp.
Johnson has been suspended from Live Real Estate, pending investigation.
Live Real Estate chief executive Brendan Miller said, “We welcome, and fully support an investigation by the EAAB into Gabriella’s conduct.”