Ethnic discrimination in Singapore’s rental market
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Ethnic discrimination in Singapore’s rental market

In a country where property prices are soaring, another phenomenon is witnessed in Singapore’s rental market: ethnic discrimination.

An article published by The Wall Street Journal last week indicates the blatant ethnic discrimination that pervades and plagues the property rental market.


Property Guru screenshot. credit: The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal:

A three-bedroom condominium for rent in Singapore’s cosmopolitan Claymore Hill area in the central part of the island boasts a pool, a gymnasium, and proximity to the Orchard Road shopping district. It would be a great catch for any high income family – unless you happen to be Indian.The listing, which appeared November 3 on the Property Guru classified listings website, beckons prospective tenants to “search no more” but adds the following caveat: “Accept all race, except indian sorry no offence (sic).”

A significant number of property advertisements on rental websites such as Singapore-based Property Guru or Craigslist specify that no Indians, ‘PRCs’ (from the People’s Republic of China) or Malays be allowed to rent various properties. Some ads also specify that Japanese, Caucasian or Chinese tenants are preferred.

Though discriminatory, this act is not against the law in Singapore, as Eugene Tan – a professor of law at the Singapore Management University – said that this is because “landlords are free to specify their requirements,” as the Journal reports.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Singapore’s Council of Estate Agents, a statutory board under the purview of the government’s Ministry of National Development, says it doesn’t condone racial discrimination. It also said in a response to queries from The Wall Street Journal that it has advertising guidelines in place to prevent discrimination, but “some landlords have explained that they face practical considerations renting out their properties, leading to certain requirements in rental transactions.” It did not specify what those considerations were.

Property Guru says it employs a team to moderate the more than 100,000 listings on its site to check against “racist or anti-social content” that contravenes Singapore’s anti-sedition and racial harmony laws. But it still makes allowances for clients to request their preferences even when it comes to race and ethnicity.

“We understand that agents have to take care of their clients’ preferences,” said a spokesperson from Property Guru, adding that if any listing is found to be racist or anti-social, agents are contacted and told to amend the information.

Read the article here.