I REFER to the letter “Outlaw race discrimination for tenants” (The Star, Aug 21). I couldn’t agree more with the writer.
I recently finished my pre-university studies in Johor and will be starting my degree course in Penang soon.
My college mates and I faced the same issue a few months ago. Our university is located in Educity and it is only practical to find a place to rent anywhere within a 10- to 15-minute radius.
We approached a number of agents after we found potential apartments to rent, only to be turned down because we weren’t Chinese. The agents are not to be blamed because they are only acting on behalf of the owners. Among the details that were asked were our nationality (there are international students in Educity), race and occupation.
Some were rejected even though they had paid the booking fee. International students (such as Maldivians, Koreans and Africans) had to make sure there was at least one Malaysian staying with them or else they would not be accepted as tenants. Apparently, the owners only allow the agents to negotiate with Malaysians.
Despite the fact that we were students of the nearby universities, we were still denied tenancy because we are not Chinese. Non-Chinese students who are fluent in Mandarin were not accepted as well.
I really don’t see the logic in this. Every tenant is liable to the terms and conditions in the tenancy agreement regardless of his/her race, nationality or religion.
Discrimination based on race and religion, especially against Malaysians, is ridiculous. The diversity of races and religions in our country is what makes it Malaysian.
Being denied a roof over our head for this reason is absolutely atrocious, not to mention a violation of a basic human right.
Language should not even be an excuse for owners, as all Malaysians should be able to converse in Bahasa Malaysia, if not English. The worry of renting the place to an unworthy tenant who may damage the property is understandable but such discrimination is unnecessary.
I’ve encountered a handful of owners who haven’t discriminated against us and I truly am grateful for that.
Here is a suggestion for landlords and agents to consider before renting out their apartment, especially to students.
Ask for proof that they are students (student ID, for example) and a copy of the tenants’ IC, give them a booking fee payment period and get them to sign a detailed agreement.
The anti-discrimination law being drafted by the government should definitely include the issue of racist landlords/tenants as per the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).
The sooner it is enforced, the better it will be for all Malaysians.
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