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Old 17.09.2009, 17:08
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Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

I applied for an Apartment duly advertised by a leading Agency over the internet. On making telephonic inqueries I was bluntly told that the
Apartment cannot be considered as I am an Asian and the "smell of
food" is a cause for complaints by others!
Can I persue this matter with any Authority and which, in Bern? Any
help will be appreciated.
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Old 17.09.2009, 17:19
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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I applied for an Apartment duly advertised by a leading Agency over the internet. On making telephonic inqueries I was bluntly told that the
Apartment cannot be considered as I am an Asian and the "smell of
food" is a cause for complaints by others!
Can I persue this matter with any Authority and which, in Bern? Any
help will be appreciated.
That's a despicable thing to say. As for doing anything about it, it's basically your word against theirs. Complaints like that rarely get anywhere, unfortunately.
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Old 17.09.2009, 17:25
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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That's a despicable thing to say. As for doing anything about it, it's basically your word against theirs. Complaints like that rarely get anywhere, unfortunately.
I agree with Russkov. Since it was a telephonic reply and not a written one, unfortunately there isn't anything you can do about it.
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Old 17.09.2009, 18:42
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

That is not a nice thing to say, but there is nothing you can do about it. Trust me, you don't want to rent from a company like that. I would have replied that obviously the kitchen is not equipped with a very effective hood fan, otherwise smells would not be an issue but since they are I wouldn't want to live there anyways. Imagine smelling your neighbour's cheese fondue.

There is a lot of discrimination where apartment rentals are concerned. I see this all the time. Landlords and owners make assumptions based on a name, and appearances. I have very little tolerance for this. But I have never had a problem finding apartments for any of my clients. I think landlords would be ashamed to say something like this to me.

Discrimination isn't just limited to non Swiss. A Swiss single mother has a tough time renting an apartment too. I know an owner who won't rent to any single moms because he had one bad experience. That's all it takes for an owner to decide he does not want to rent to a particular person.
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Old 24.09.2009, 10:49
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

I think I was not given an apartment because of kids. no such a big deal, there wer no kids bikes in the bike room. it was a cool apt though
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Old 24.09.2009, 11:09
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

Its sad but true.
Students - even Swiss ones who want an apartment have a real tough time because the landlords are afraid they won't get paid, will be noisy etc, I've heard of landlords who would rather the apartment stays empty than gets rented out to people from the east based on bad experiences. Like saying the apartment is for one or two people and suddenly its packed with an entire family, they fall back on rent or refuse to move and make things harder for the landlord.
Single girls also have a harder time, some couples with kids also have hard times because the kids will be noisy etc.
I'm Indian and love the smell of Indian food but for alot of people its very strong - the flavors are not ones the Swissies are used to, thus may find pungent or annoying on a daily basis.
Guess everyone has the right to their opinion - not that I support racism one bit. But c'est la vie ici - each one has to look out for themselves. Besides I think the Swiss are very open and trusting until they have one bad/strange experience. Then they get very cautious and try to avoid trouble. Also sometimes because of the language and/or cultural difference it is very difficult to understand each other.
I hope you find yourself a nice apartment soon, I'm sorry you had to hear that. Remember it wasn't directed at you personally, at the Asian race in general. Complaining won't get you anywhere. It's never pleasant nevertheless but who knows - you might just get an apartment thats way better, cheaper and has a more accepting landlord. Let this go and look ahead positively. Good luck.
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Old 24.09.2009, 11:12
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

I actually like the smell of Asian cooking...=)

We had issues with finding housing because of our furry friends....
But, in the end, we found a great place. So, don't dwell too much over it. You probably wouldn't have been happy dealing with that managing company anyway.

Good luck!
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Old 24.09.2009, 12:02
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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I applied for an Apartment duly advertised by a leading Agency over the internet. On making telephonic inqueries I was bluntly told that the
Apartment cannot be considered as I am an Asian and the "smell of
food" is a cause for complaints by others!
Can I persue this matter with any Authority and which, in Bern? Any
help will be appreciated.
Well, the Vietnamese fry this really smelly fish. Permeated the whole building of a friend in Montreal.
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Old 24.09.2009, 12:20
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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the "smell of food" is a cause for complaints by others!

Aww, I'd love to help but unfortunately I am not a property owner.

I *love* coming into our building from outdoors at around 7'ish pm and walking up the stairs... smelling all the different dinner time smells.

I dunno where the family on the first floor is from but their food smells different than what I'm used to... good but different.

2nd floor is a Swiss gentleman and his Italian wife... more yummy smells.

3rd floor is a Swiss woman, not often cooking smells at dinner time from her but sometimes the smell of baking infuses the entire stairwell from her place.

4th floor... lunchtime is more of a time to smell yummies from there as they work evenings.

5th floor neighbor sometimes also has yummy smells if she's entertaining, otherwise it is something from my own kitchen.


I wonder if someone who's traveled plenty would be able to walk up our stairs (without knowing anyone) and guess who is from where by the smells of their cooking.


Anyhow, you know what the saying is...

"Variety is the spice of life."



Meanwhile Mr/s. OP... I heartily hope you find someplace to live which is both comfortable and suitable for you.

From the sound of it, I doubt you'd have enjoyed your time with those neighbors even if the landlord had rented to you.
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:16
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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Apartment cannot be considered as I am an Asian and the "smell of
food" is a cause for complaints by others!
God, that makes me so angry.

I salute you for not marching round to their office & twatting the racist f**kwit.

But as others have said, better in the long run not to be renting from arseholes like that.
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:35
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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God, that makes me so angry.

I salute you for not marching round to their office & twatting the racist f**kwit.

But as others have said, better in the long run not to be renting from arseholes like that.

Why does it make you angry? the owner can rent the place to whoever they like, if they don't want the place to end up smelling like curry then thats upto them. Why is that racist?

I fully expect to be groaned at, but , I used to work with a lot of indians in my previous job here and 99.99% of the issues they had renting they bought on themselves and ruin the chances of that owner / agency ever renting to indians again, from saying they are staying for years only to give notice 5 months later to disappearing overnight, giving no notice and leaving a stack of bills behind etc etc It was no suprise that as time went on newcommers found it harder and harder to find somewhere that would accept them. Add to that the owner / agency then has to pay to get the smell from the place its kinda understandable. No offence intended, I love indian food, but it does impregnate everything.
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:38
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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I think I was not given an apartment because of kids. no such a big deal, there wer no kids bikes in the bike room. it was a cool apt though
I suspect that was not the reason they gave you, but why look at a place where there are no kids when you have kids? I never waste a family's time showing them apartments where there are no kids living. What's the point? I do the research beforehand. Regardless of the location, the rent, or how great the apartment is, a family moving into a building with no other families is a disaster waiting to happen.

If families have the budget, particularly families with more than one child, and if the children are young, I try to steer them clear of apartments. Noise can be a problem, unless there are loads of families around. Then it is a question of who can make more noise. A 4.5 room apartment can be for a family, you just have to choose the right one.
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:40
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

A few years back we had a jewish family with 3 kids (Swiss / Canadian mixture) living next-door-but-one to us. Every Friday afternoon the whole place would be permeated with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread and occasionally we'd even be treated to a loaf or two
There's now a family from Switzerland/Brazil living there and judging by the scents wafting out, she's a great cook!
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:44
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

I think the poster before is correct, it is probably an indication of bad ventilation system. We had one apartment where we there was complaints when a family moved in. It turned out that the ventilation was blocked. When that was fixed, no more complaints on the cooking smell.
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:45
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

Ok, I have to agree that it is a silly thing to say you are not going to get the appartment for rent because of the (potential) smell, because how can they assume what you eat or what you cook? Not racist but very prejudiced IMO. Having said that, indian as well as peruvian (me) spices smell strongly and I can understand that it might annoy some people with sensitive olfactory nerves. I shared an appartment once with a guy from Curazao and have to tell you that I ended up hating him because the smell of his cooking would impregnate the whole house! Of course, he was not very clean and never cleaned up after using the kitchen so we decided to throw him out. I also had two office mates that were from Asia (wont specify countries) and they smelled of food, which really made me want to throw up at work. I am very sensitive but also think this was a personal choice to be dirty and not based on country of origin.

I think you rid yourself of an annoying landlord so I would count myself lucky!
Good luck!
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:46
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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I applied for an Apartment duly advertised by a leading Agency over the internet. On making telephonic inqueries I was bluntly told that the
Apartment cannot be considered as I am an Asian and the "smell of
food" is a cause for complaints by others!
Can I persue this matter with any Authority and which, in Bern? Any
help will be appreciated.

I don't think this kind of "discrimination" would be considered illegal in Switzerland. Landlords are free to choose their tenants based on whatever criteria they like to apply......
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Old 24.09.2009, 13:51
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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A few years back we had a jewish family with 3 kids (Swiss / Canadian mixture) living next-door-but-one to us. Every Friday afternoon the whole place would be permeated with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread and occasionally we'd even be treated to a loaf or two
There's now a family from Switzerland/Brazil living there and judging by the scents wafting out, she's a great cook!
That would be "challah"...sold here as "Zopf" usually only on Fridays at Migros and Coop. You can smell the freshly baked bread throughout the entire store.

I am sure that some of my neighbours open the windows wide just to let others know they cook....especially at lunch time. I can walk by the other houses and try and guess what is for lunch.
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Old 24.09.2009, 14:02
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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Why does it make you angry? the owner can rent the place to whoever they like, if they don't want the place to end up smelling like curry then thats upto them. Why is that racist?

I fully expect to be groaned at, but , I used to work with a lot of indians in my previous job here and 99.99% of the issues they had renting they bought on themselves and ruin the chances of that owner / agency ever renting to indians again, from saying they are staying for years only to give notice 5 months later to disappearing overnight, giving no notice and leaving a stack of bills behind etc etc It was no suprise that as time went on newcommers found it harder and harder to find somewhere that would accept them. Add to that the owner / agency then has to pay to get the smell from the place its kinda understandable. No offence intended, I love indian food, but it does impregnate everything.
I find it odd to be explaining the concept of racism and why it is bad, but here goes.

I think the reason for anger is clear. People do not like being judged on the color of their skin or where they or their ancestors were born. Just the other day a Swiss guy was telling me he was upset when a English girl told him she finds all Swiss men horribly boring without even getting to know him personally. One can be discriminated against in one's own country.

The reason racism is wrong is race and ethnicity are decided at birth. Because of a primitive inherent distrust of people outside of one's clan people use these qualities to overwhelmingly make negative judgments about people. The situation is repeated over and over. When someone from your clan (Swiss) is a bad tenant that is just one bad apple. When someone from another clan (Asian) is a bad tenant ALL ASIANS are bad tenants. While this is a natural and frequently unconscious mental process to draw these conclusions, it is morally reprehensible to hold them consciously.

The moral of the story is to use other criteria besides race and ethnicity to judge applicants like financial fitness (salary and net worth), social integration (i.e. language and social network), and circumstances (musical instruments, pets, kids etc...).
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Old 24.09.2009, 14:03
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

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Why is that racist?
I used to work with a lot of indians in my previous job here and 99.99% of the issues they had renting they bought on themselves
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Old 24.09.2009, 14:05
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Re: Can I make a complaint over this? [Leasing apartment discrimination]

All this thinking about neighbors cooking... so many memories for me. (No wonder I'm heavy, lots of good memories center around food ... well, that and I hate to get sweaty )


I remember, as a kid, living in Okinawa and our across-the-street neighbors were a family from the Philippines. It was a young(ish) husband and wife, their baby son, her mother and a teen-aged nephew they'd adopted in order to get him access to better health care as he was sickly.

Anyhow... oh my. "Grandmama" (as we were asked to call her) soooo could cook. They had a baptismal party for the baby which, of course, required days of preparation for the massive amounts of food. They dug a fire pit in the lawn (something you'd rarely see in many areas of the US!) in order to roast a whole pig. I don't remember everything they had (I was only 8 after all ) but I remember it smelling strong and good. I also remember all of the women coming in and out for days before, bringing dishes of food and staying to gossip. The menfolk starting with the firepit the night before to make sure it would be just right, all the joking around (and alcohol consumed I'm sure).


Too bad the OP's neighbors won't be able to share fantastic memories like that with their kids.
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