Property Rental Market: Racial Discrimination in Malaysia

Racial discrimination also occurs in Malaysia's rental property market.
Malaysia's rental property market shows racial discrimination.

Racial discrimination exists anywhere in the world in different forms. Malaysian minister admits such behavior occurs in the property rental market in the country.

Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican accepted that racial discrimination persists in the property rental market.

“But in Malaysia, when we talk about discrimination, it comes down to preference. It would be very awkward to have Acts supporting the preference of owners’ rights, but we will conduct further studies on the suitability of including the elements raised by YB,” Merican said.

He added that it’s uncomfortable to legislate a law that pursues a non-partisan balance. Merican pertains to the rights of landlords and tenants.

The concern includes the landlord’s bias for specific tenants. It is even though other countries have definite anti-discrimination legislations.

He continued that there are also similar regulations in the United States and Australia. It forbids any sale advertisements by adding one’s volition.

Residential Tenancy Act Will Address Racial Discrimination in Malaysia’s Property Rental Market

The Residential Tenancy Act will tackle racial discrimination in the country’s property rental market. Its objective is to equalize the rights of property owners as well as tenants. Additionally, it will regulate rental agreements and initiate a tribunal to resolve tenants-landlords arguments.

Merican noted that the current development of residential agreements employs the Contract Act approaches. It is where the stipulations are typically non-inclusive. Moreover, it doesn’t completely safeguard the tenants’ and owners’ interests and rights.

Malaysia’s Residential Tenancy Act got its draft from the New South Wales, Australia’s Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

What is Considered Racial Discrimination in Terms of
Property Rentals?

Racial discrimination in property rentals is also known as house discrimination in other countries such as the US. It’s the unlawful practice of judging renters or buyers of properties or dwellings. Property owners or landlords usually discriminate based on color, sex,  religion, family status, disability, or national origin.

It also occurs when a seller, lender, or real estate agent treats against a person in the sale, condo, apartment, rental, or house financing. Both federal and state governments oversee housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and individual state anti-discrimination statutes.

The Necessity to Stimulate Property Market in Malaysia

The nation’s announced Budget 202 provided only a few important strategies to stimulate the property market. According to Reapfield Properties Group COO Jonathan Lee, no compelling techniques can poke market buying interest.

“RPGT waiver can motivate the seller to sell, but there is nothing to motivate the buyer to buy. I was expecting at least the extension of HOC (Home Ownership Campaign), or even better, stamp duty discount or incentive for first-time homebuyers. However, there is none. The Budget has nothing much for the property. It is rather disappointing,” Lee said.

He’s also anticipating some promulgations regarding Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) project. Introduced in 2002, the said program lets foreigners buy a property and live in Malaysia for a long time. However, it was temporarily put on hold in August 2020. It empowers the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Home Ministry to evaluate the project.

Last month’s reactivation of MM2H came with improvements to applications and policies. It aims to balance the country’s security and economic aspects. On July 14 and 30, the cabinet approved the recommended improvements to new MM2H policies. It will support the National Recovery Plan’s implementation to revive its dwindling economy due to the pandemic.

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