By The Star Exclusive
Asia News Network
PETALING JAYA: Tenants seeking to rent rooms or homes feel that Malaysian landlords continue to place too much emphasis on race.
According to a research, one in five Malaysians or 21% of 1,204 Malaysians surveyed, claimed to have experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity when seeking a place to rent.
This is higher than local Chinese (20%) and Malays (18%), who have faced ethnic discrimination when surveyed.
The findings is based on a survey involving 1,204 Malaysians, aged 18 and above.
It also found that a third (34%) of those surveyed are currently staying in rented properties, while seven in 10 (69%) had rented property at some point in their lives.
The research showed that 62% or six in 10 of those surveyed have come across rental advertisements with specific racial requirements, such as only a certain race, or a select few, being eligible to rent such premises.
A third of those surveyed also admitted they knew others who had also faced ethnic discrimination. It showed that six out of 10 Malaysian Indians who took part in the survey were being discriminated.
Two in five or 37% of those surveyed found that stating a racial preference in property advertisements is considered racism, with 58% of the local Indians surveyed agreeing to this.
However, 32% of those surveyed as a whole believe that landlords, who had racial preferences, only made good business sense, a view mostly held by Malaysian Chinese (39%).
About 60% of those polled felt that landlords should have “absolute discretion” when it comes to renting out their properties.
Asia Pacific’s YouGov Omnibus chief Jake Gammon said Malaysians were divided when it comes to the issue of ethnicity, with regard to the rental of premises.
“While a notable number have experienced racial discrimination in the rental market and many believe that race requirements in rental property ads constitute racism, a large proportion also believe that landlords renting out to preferred races made good business sense.
“Despite certain ethnic minorities feeling more strongly about the issue than others, the majority believe landlords should be left to their own devices,” said Gammon.
However some landlords say they prefer tenants from the same religious and ethnic background to avoid drama, others say they only care if their rent is paid up on time.
For Kelvin Lim, who has properties in Tropicana, he prefers to choose Chinese due to religious concerns.
“If I pick others, they might not be comfortable with some things that we do at home.
“We do not want to create unnecessary drama.
Lim, 38, said adverts asking for ethnicity or stating the ethnicity of preference, was common across the country.
“After talking to them over the phone, I will meet them personally to get to know more about the potential tenant.
“I want to make sure they will be able to take good care of my property.
“Some of the landlords prefer non-smokers.
“Others do not want tenants to have pets. This is also similar,” he said.
Another property owner in Petaling Jaya, Susan Lam, 42, said she does not take into consideration racial, religious or gender background but prefers those who could pay their rent on time and keep the premises clean.
“I have rented out my properties to all races.
“It is really not hard to respect each other’s beliefs.
“For Muslim tenants, they just do not mix their utensils while their housemates can cook using separate kitchen wares.
“There shouldn’t be any problem as we are a multiracial society and respect one another.
“As long as tenants are responsible, respectful and clean, that is good enough,” she said.
But Nur Sharifah Azhar, 32, who owns a property in Subang Jaya, said she prefers female tenants.
“Race is never a consideration but I have had bad experiences with male tenants.
“I rented out to a group of students but they did not take good care of the house. So now, I prefer female tenants or married couples,” she said.
Property agent Muhammad Iqbal Anwar, 33, said most landlords would make known their racial preferences when they want to rent out their properties.
“It is not unusual. We will stick to the choice of the landlords because it is their property. There is nothing racist about the advertisements,” he said.