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Malaysian Shows How Racism Against Indians Still Prevails When Renting Rooms



For illustration purpose | Source: Sweet Hut & iStock

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article is solely based on the data that a Twitter user has gathered and is not dismissive of the racism that takes place against other races.

Racism against Malaysian Indians when looking for places to rent has been prevalent in the country and we’ve read and heard of many individuals’ experiences on how they were repeatedly turned down by landlords based on their race.

To quantify his experience as an Indian, Twitter user @pingster2008 gathered data from a property website after having to deal with racism during his searches for a place to stay. He said that he had to deal with this issue ever since he left Alor Setar and came to Kuala Lumpur after his SPM examinations.

In the first bar chart on his Twitter thread, @pingster2008 presents how 45% of room listings in KL and Selangor do not accept Indians while 19% of listings do accept Indians. However, the 37% of “no preference” listings does not always means that Indians are welcome as the racial preference could be stated elsewhere.

@pingster2008 said from personal experience, agents would usually inform their potential tenants about their preferences after calling them.

He also shared how this trend is consistent across all room types, although listings closer to KL city seem to have less listings that accept Indians. To simplify the data, he said that the locations in these charts were filtered to the top 15 places with at least 200 listings.

@pingster2008 then goes on to say that on average, Indians have to pay 19% or RM107 more in monthly rent than non-Indians as shown in the bar chart below.

He said Indians would also need to pay 22% and 17% more to rent a master and middle room respectively. While rent disparity for single rooms isn’t as high, the chart shows that it is still 5% more expensive for Indians.

The last bar chart shown in the Twitter thread shows how rent disparity also varies by location.

“Indians would have to pay at least 21% more rent than non-Indians in locations like Wangsa Maju, SS2 and Setapak. Again, locations are filtered to top 15,” @pingster2008 said.

After describing the data he had collected, @pingster2008 explains that this is just a basic analysis of the market and hopes that further research will be carried out on this issue. However, he says that this puts his “experience in hard numbers”.

“I used to reach out to 10-15 agents at a time because I know most will turn me down on the basis of race,” he said.

“I also used to hear of non-Indian friends/colleagues renting bigger rooms in better locations for less than what I pay. It’s f**ked up but it happens.”

He then mentions briefly about the new Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) that will be tabled next year (2021). According to EdgeProp, the RTA seeks to addresses racism and one of its top objectives is to “protect the legitimate interest of landlords against errant tenants and protect tenants against irresponsible landlords.”

However, @pinster2008 has some doubts as he says this act is only targeted for rental of low cost houses.

“(It’s) great and all but people living in more upscale areas will still face the same issue. Also, with the current political instability I don’t know if it will even be tabled,” he said.

“So, the best we can do is start changing the mindset of judging potential tenants based on irrelevant factors like race and religion and start looking at their personality, income, education, proof of employment.”

Speaking to WORLD OF BUZZ, @pingster2008 says that he “hopes researchers and policymakers would start digging deeper into racial dynamics of property renting as the data is quite easily available.”

“In difficult times like now, the right to live in a space shouldn’t be determined by trivial matters like race or ethnicity,” he adds.

Hopefully this issue in Malaysia among Indians and other races that face similar challenges will be able to be eradicated from the country. It’s time to change our mentality and stop all forms of racism in Malaysia.


Also read: “Is it ok for companies to hire based on religion?” Malaysian Calls Out Biased Dental Job Ad

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