Anyone who had to find a new place to live knows how overwhelming it can be. It takes time and effort to look for a suitable location, set up viewings, and consider one’s budget.

We are in the 21st century, and Malaysia is still facing racial discrimination in rental policies by landlords. A Star report stated that 21% of Malaysians were subject to racial discrimination while finding a place to rent.

It’s even more frustrating when the landlords don’t want tenants of your ethnicity – and you can’t even get a viewing session. Sadly, Malaysian Indians encompassing 7% of the population are the ones that face the most discrimination among the other races in the country when it comes to house hunting. 

Source: Pingster2008

According to a research, when it comes to bias in the property sector, our Indian community which consists of 4 out of ten (46%) grappled with various discriminating policies when it came to securing a rented home. There were 1,204 Malaysian participants in the study, 20% of Chinese claimed to have faced such discrimination, while 18% by the Malays.

The property owners also choose who they want their homes to be rented off. On one local property rental platform, thousands of listings indicate that owners are looking for “Chinese” tenants only and claim “No Indians” outright.

Recently a Malaysian Indian known as Pingster2008, used his coding experience and data visualisation skills to shed light on perceived bias in Malaysia’s rental sector. His scrutiny of analysis shows that about 45% of all listings in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, prospective tenants who are Indians “are rejected upfront.”

Pingalayen stated that “no preference” listings, which contributed 37% of the findings, do not always imply that “Indians are welcome”. He was personally bound in certain cases, as the agents would remind prospective Indian tenants of their preference, after giving them a call.

Not to forget that he also mentioned that areas closer to the capital city (KL) “seem to have fewer listings for our Indian community.”

Source: Pingster2008

Malaysia undoubtedly has a long way to go indeed when it comes to achieving a completely racial free country!

Recently, Lawyer Syahredzan Johan shares his point of view based on “Racial Discrimination in Rental Properties.”

He stated that Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which forbids, among other aspects of racial discrimination had agreed by the Malaysian courts to refer only to circumstances between the government and a person, rather than between two private citizens.

‘Article 8(2) has been determined to apply only vertically by our courts, meaning that it does not apply horizontally amongst residents. In other words, if the state discriminates against you, then you will take action when your rights have been violated.

However, if prejudice existed between individuals or the private sector, Article 8(2) does not extend according to a court ruling.

Syahredzan also warned against making such a blacklist scheme on tenants or landlords alone to prevent cases such as names being kept in the system due to grudges, saying that after a decision has been taken, it should maintain track of or work in accordance with a tribunal.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) is in the midst of reforming the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) strives to safeguard both owners and tenants. The RTA, which contains clauses that will be frameworks for settling landlord and tenant disputes, is scheduled to be tabled in early 2021.