A landlord reportedly told the owner of the Bross Bagels shops in Edinburgh that she was displaying “typical Jewish behaviour” when she asked for rent relief during the COVID-19 crisis.
Rent relief has been widely introduced as the pandemic causes enormous financial difficulty to countless businesses and individuals.
The owner of the chain explained that when she tried to arrange alternative rent payments with the landlord for the three months (during which the pandemic was expected to affect businesses most acutely), as she had done with the landlords of the other stores, the landlord disputed whether the relief was necessary. But when she texted back to him that she preferred to continue their exchange in writing rather than over the telephone so that she could make their exchange available to her solicitor, her landlord responded that this was “typical Jewish behaviour”.
The landlord was apparently in Turkey for medical treatment when the lockdown was imposed, leaving him stranded.
Without regard to the merits or otherwise of the claim for rent relief, the insulting reference to the Jewish ethnicity of the owner is totally unacceptable.
The landlord subsequently – but not persuasively – claimed that he meant the comment as a compliment to her ability as a businesswoman, and insisted that he had “no intention of upsetting anyone” or “going against any religion”.
The leader on Edinburgh Council, Adam McVey of the SNP, tweeted that it was “disgraceful that a landlord thinks [the] way to respond to a tenant’s request for support is with appalling casual antisemitism.”