Roderick Lynch was on the hunt for a home with his then partner when he was told the rental property he had been to look around was no longer available – despite being the only person at the viewing.
Lynch, who is Black, suggested his partner, who is white, view the same property without him. She was told the property was still available and was later offered to sign a tenancy agreement.
While the incident Lynch described to Yahoo News happened five years ago, a recent study by campaigning group Generation Rent suggested that the issue remains prevalent.
The group used artificial intelligence (AI) to create two fake profiles - one Black and one white - on the online renting platform SpareRoom and found that the white individual was 36% more likely to receive a positive response after applying to rent than a person of colour.
“I think it's sad that in this day and age, the colour of our skin is a barrier to our achievement, it's a barrier to a roof over our head,” Lynch told Yahoo News.
Lynch, a private transport service contractor and vice chair of the chamber of commerce in the London borough of Southwark, told Yahoo News he has faced racial discrimination ever since he first started renting more than 10 years ago.
He said he would often change his voice to sound like a “white person” to get his foot in the door. “When I go to meet them, their faces look shocked because I am not what they expected," he said.
And when he moved into his current property two years ago, family and friends urged him not to complain about the repairs in his house for fear he would get “booted out.”
“I know people who have been booted out after complaining they are living in a hell hole," he said.
In another instance in August this year, Lynch said he went to an estate agent to enquire about two properties for his son in Sydenham, south London, when he was told to come back the next day.
Lynch returned and was told the two properties were taken shortly before he had arrived. He says he called the same estate agent later that day, impersonated a “white” person and he was told those properties were still available and asked when he would like to arrange a viewing.
Lynch is originally from St Lucia and comes from a family who migrated from the Caribbean as part of the Windrush generation.
“Back in the day when I was young, when my family would go and look for a property, they always took a white person with them, because the white person can maybe take you through the hoops.”
He says it's similar now and he believes landlords look up applicants on Google and Instagram and refuse renters based on the colour of their skin.
Lynch, who recently became a grandfather, says letting agents have also suggested he finds property in areas where Black residents are likely to live.
He said: “People say this can’t be racist, but what else is it?”
Lynch describes the situation many Black renters go through as “horrible” and says that estate agents and online platforms like SpareRoom should be held accountable.
He says housing legislation is set against renters and that there is no security.
Unfortunately for renters, earlier this month the government announced that the long-awaited abolition of Section 21, where a landlord can evict a tenant without providing any reason, will come in until court reforms and stronger possession grounds for landlords were in place.
Generation Rent says the Renters’ (Reform) Bill would grant renters in England much-needed security in their homes, which will be extremely beneficial for renters, especially people of colour.
“I would like to see issues around Section 21 scrapped, I would like to see changes around someone making themselves intentionally homeless, Lynch said.
Yahoo News contacted SpareRoom but did not receive a reply. In a statement to Sky News, the flat-sharing website said "discrimination policy states nobody can discriminate against or reject someone due to their race.
"We look into every single report of discrimination we receive and investigate thoroughly - if we find that racial discrimination has occurred we'll remove the user permanently."