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Almost 1 in 4 S’poreans experienced racial discrimination when renting property

We still have some way to go as a society.

Sulaiman Daud | January 10, 03:45 pm

House-hunting in Singapore is already difficult enough without adding racial discrimination into the mix.

Unfortunately, 23 per cent, or nearly one in four Singaporeans have had to contend with discrimination when renting a house.

The numbers are also different depending on the renter’s race, according to a survey conducted by YouGov, the international market research agency.

Difference according to race

In a media release dated Jan. 11, YouGov found that 49 per cent of Indian respondents said they experienced discrimination while looking for a flat to rent.

34 per cent of Malays said the same thing, higher than the 18 per cent of Chinese respondents.

1,539 Singaporeans in total were surveyed.

According to YouGov’s research, 13 per cent of Singaporeans live in rented property, with 25 per cent having rented at least once in their lives.

Pic from YouGov.

Give landlords the power

But despite these personal experiences, most Singaporeans still feel that landlords should be allowed absolute discretion when it comes to renting property.

67 per cent feel that a tenant must disclose certain pieces of information to their landlord, with nationality, gender and occupation topping the list.

The survey also found that more Chinese respondents were concerned with the race of their tenants, while more Malay respondents were concerned about income.

22 per cent of respondents felt that landlords had a right to know the sexual orientation of their tenant.

Pic from YouGov.

Contradiction in terms

Still, about 40 per cent of respondents believe that putting racial preferences in property adverts constitutes racism — for those who expressed an opinion, at least.

The survey did not indicate how many people refused to answer that question.

Jake Gammon, Head of YouGov Omnibus in APAC commented, “Singaporeans are split on the issue of race in renting.”

Although a significant number have experienced racial discrimination in the rental market, and many believed that race requirements in ads were racist, a large number still believed that landlords renting to preferred races was just good business sense.

But that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to turn a blind eye to racial discrimination.

(Update Jan. 11: The article has updated to reflect the media release date of the survey.)

Top image from YouGov.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve, although he is falling in love with Jodie Whittaker's Thirteen. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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