Espousing “muhibbah” or racial tolerance for Malaysian tenants
Petaling Jaya, 23 December 2020: The issues of racial discrimination among landlords in the renting of their properties is of great concern in our practice. If unchecked, this may cause a divide among races and eventually break the core existence of a plural society. While Malaysia is proud to state that we practice multiculturalism and co-existence among races, racial discrimination in the name of providing shelter over someone’s head must be taken seriously. After all, shelter is a basic necessity and guaranteed by the constitution.
“In this respect, the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) supports the Government’s initiative to enact the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) which in general is a good move to protect tenants and landlords. It should provide a win-win formula for both the Landlords and Tenants. In this respect, we in the MIEA, representing the 25,000 Real Estate Practitioners make this clarion call to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to address the issue of racial discrimination in the renting of premises,” said MIEA President, Lim Boon Ping.
The RTA, currently being drafted by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) is expected to be tabled in early 2021 and aims to protect both owners and tenants. Amongst the provisions will be mechanisms to address landlord and tenant disputes. Currently, landlords and tenants have had to rely on a number of provisions in the National Land Code 1965. “While we respect the arguments that the owner has the right to decide who they want as a tenant, it should not go against norms and justice when certain races are precluded from renting, that would be racial discrimination. It is important to state that race has nothing to do with the capability of a person to service their rental obligations. We should be more concerned whether the individual, no matter what race, is capable of being a good tenant”.
Supporting and echoing the call by Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran to promote the establishment of a landlord-tenant tribunal as a safety net, that all parties must play a role in learning to accept all races as equal, Lim added that, in the USA there is a law called “equal opportunity” where one cannot be denied a property to rent or sell based on race. In Article 10 of ‘MIEA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice’, it states that all agents are “ethically and morally bound by law to treat all parties equally and not to discriminate any person for reasons of race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, family status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity”.
“Although most agents’ duty is to serve the landlord who is their client, we also have a duty of care to the tenants. As such, agents are taught and trained to reject any instruction by a client who looks for tenants based on racial preference. We have urged all members of the real estate fraternity to live up to the industry code of ethics and ensure that tenants are primarily selected on their ability to comply with the commercial terms of the tenancy agreement. In actuality this is the best way to be part of promoting the concept of Muhibbah and as agents play our part in Nation Building.” Lim added that “On the other hand, we are concerned that such ethical practice does not exist on online platforms who are acting as intermediaries and thus circumventing the protections afforded under Act 242 (Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers Act 1981)”.
MIEA is a National body representing real estate practitioners in Malaysia. Established in 1974, it comprises of more than 6,500 registered real estate practitioners as members. As the largest association representing registered real estate practitioners in the country, MIEA empowers practitioners by promoting professionalism, protect the public interest and is the leading voice for Malaysian real estate practitioners on matters relating to real estate practices in Malaysia. Real estate practitioners are encouraged to join MIEA to be in the know in the Malaysian real estate industry, as well as enjoy the benefits of being a member.