Your wife is Indian, landlord won’t rent to you

7 min read

Make a stand against rental racial discrimination with's regardless of race campaign

Make a stand against rental racial discrimination with’s REGARDLESS-OF-RACE campaign

My wife’s name is Roshni. It’s not hard to tell that she is Indian.

She is a Singaporean, her favourite snack is popiah and her favourite fruit is durian. She is also the founder and CEO of theAsianparent.

Late last year, when she was 6 months pregnant, we decided to move to a place closer to her office to prepare for Baby’s arrival.

I thought it was going to be a breeze when we first started our search. After all, it is a renters’ market with an oversupply of vacant apartments and I know the country and the process well, so I was confident that it would be easy – I was very wrong.

Photo credits: Photo credits:
Photo credits:

In the beginning, things seemed easy, I could find several suitable homes, agents were friendly and responsive, scheduling was fast – most were eager to receive us for viewings.

However, I began to notice something very odd as we went for these viewing, something I never encountered before, in the dozen years that I’ve been renting. On several occasions, the agents seemed eager to end the viewings quickly, sometimes without even discussing the offer. I would text them afterwards to negotiate on the price, but one of the response we got was a shocking “Sorry your wife is Indian, landlord won’t rent to you. Next time please indicate earlier, so we both don’t waste time”.

I understand the idea of discrimination intellectually and recognise that it exists, but it was not until this moment that I caught a glimpse of what it actually means to be discriminated against.

From then on, I learnt to edit our introduction to be “Me and my wife, Roshni” in our texts to agents, just so that we don’t waste time, and sure enough, after enquiring for over 30 (yes, that many) properties, over 20 percent of our enquiries were rejected upfront simply because of her name. In one case, after the typical vague response of “Profile doesn’t match”, I pushed harder to ask “Is it because my wife is Indian?”, and the response was a dead-pan “Yes, thanks for your understanding”.

In the end, my wife and I  paid a good 15 percent more than what we should have because we could only settle on one place we liked that welcomed us (in addition to the fact  we had little negotiation power at that point).

“Should we drop my last name from Shan’s (our daughter’s) IC? It might just be easier for her in the future”, Roshni asked me one night with a hint of defeat and injury she was trying to hide, my heart broke into a thousand pieces. We had wanted our daughter to keep both our last names and to be proud of her heritage equally.

That night, I decided I could not let my daughter grow up in a society where she has to hide her identity just because “it will be easier”. Not here, as a citizen, in the country of her birth.

You too can make a difference to oppose racial discrimination by taking your stand here.

“No Indian, No PRC” – Discrimination is real and it’s NOT OK (nor smart)

This is not a new problem, and neither is it a small one.

In fact, if you Google “No Indian No PRC”, you will find actual rental listings in Singapore in the top results.  The problem is so prevalent that even BBC had extensive coverage on it some time ago.

While there are many listings containing such explicitly discriminatory language, that only remains the tip of the iceberg. From surveying our users, 20 percent of the time, they would experience some form of racial discrimination. Enquiries about rental properties often come with a series of profiling questions that includes “What race are you?”, “Where are you from?”, or outright rejection by stating  “Profile doesn’t match”. The top two groups of people who receive discriminatory responses are Indians and PRCs (referring to those from mainland People’s Republic of China).

Reasons cited for such practices range from perceptions of lack of cleanliness, to likelihood of damaging the apartment, to simply “I don’t like them”. While there are genuine concerns that are well within the rights of a landlord to screen for, linking these concerns to race and stereotyping prospective tenants as such is baseless.

Besides, with rental vacancy rate at an all time high (7.5% for private properties as of Q1 2016), landlords also have to ask – is it really economically wise to discriminate against over 50 percent of rental demand? If truly damages and cleaning is what you worry about, there is already have rental deposit for that purpose. In most circumstances, damages are well below the typical 1-2 month deposit and the landlord is well-covered on this.

How do we fix it?

The solution is simple.

In conjunction with Racial Harmony Day, we are launching the REGARDLESS-OF-RACE campaign.

Under this initiative, we are introducing a new feature on – “Diversity Friendly” listings. Agents and landlords can now positively indicate that their rental listings can be listed to be open for all, regardless of their ethnicity, background or nationality. These listings will then be prominently featured on the homepage to prospective renters. The idea is to give renters peace of mind during their home search journey –  reducing instances of rude comments and unpleasant experiences while enquiring about listings.

Our hope is that as more and more agents put up ‘Diversity Friendly’ listings (and catch the attention of renters who look for these first), it will build momentum to create a more inclusive rental market and landlords will start to realise that it is not just socially unacceptable to discriminate, but also economically unviable.

View listings here

The Pledge

You too can make a difference to spread the word against racial discrimination.

We have set up a pledge page where you can take a stand against these practices as well as share their personal stories of rental racial discrimination you might have experienced.

So if you are:

  • A victim of discrimination who would like to share your story
  • A landlord who supports equality
  • A fellow human being who would stand in solidarity

You can pledge now to help create the momentum that would put an end to racial discrimination.

Hope and Forward

To me, the true hero of this story is my wife, and the many like her who have been discriminated against because of race, nationality, gender or orientation. They continue to get up in the morning everyday, get out there to build their lives and to build this nation together with the rest of us. I am a straight male Chinese Singaporean, I am acutely aware that I have it as good as it gets, I almost feel guilty for my privileges save for the fact that I did not get them by choice either.

It is easy for me to recount the story, I am merely the narrator, I know I would never truly comprehend the impact of the discrimination they had and will encounter. We at hope to take on this fight in a small way we know how in the rental industry. For those who are discriminated against, they live it everyday, everywhere. And instead of being victims, they choose to be winners and get out there to overcome. Those are the true heroes and heroines who deserves respect and applaud.

But I do believe that we as a society is better than that. After all, Singapore is already one of the most harmonious and safe country in the world after decades of intentional and dedicated society building. Today, I am proud and grateful, to be in a country where my children can walk home at night by themselves without fear of being harassed, regardless of their skin colour. But we can be more, we can show the world that with awareness and intention and choice, we can go beyond where we are to truly celebrate diversity and appreciate the beauty of those who are different from us.

Together, we can go from safe, to warm embrace.

Join the cause.


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Reader Interactions


    • Thanks for sharing your story and sorry to hear about the difficulty you had in finding a place to live. I too faced a similar challenge when I was looking to rent and I (incorrectly) assumed that because my wife was Singaporean things would be easier. Not so!

      Since then I’ve made it a point to inform others when they are engaging in racist behaviour or making racist comments (even if it is unconscious). It’s not always pretty, but it’s important.

      • Darius Cheung

        thanks abhiroop for sharing your mission!

    • Les Davies

      Having just read this article I am distressed by the apparent prejudice within Singapore society as evidenced by the unacceptable views of some in the rental market sector.
      Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with your endeavours to redress inequalities, I make the following observation :-

      ” Under this initiative, we are introducing a new feature on – “All-races-welcome” listings.”

      I am fully convinced that all men are of ‘one blood’ viz. there is but one race, the human race, to which we all belong.
      I feel that the term “All races……” despite your clear and good intent, subscribes to, and perpetrates a posture that people are, or can/should be identified, by ethnic background, as being more deserving than others.
      I’m not saying that I have an alternate term readily available as a suggestion, but feel that you should distance yourselves from words such as race, racist or other derivatives.
      I wish you well in your endeavours,
      Kind Regards

    • Ajit Moses

      While this is a good start, I do not see this addressing the real problem. If your aim is to eradicate racism in the real estate industry, then every listing in your website should be “all races welcome” listings only. Cheers

      • Nobody

        Then they wont be able to cater to the racists & the racists would migrate to other websites.

      • not a fan

        which is why this is nothing but just an empty posture… it’s not really a move that is intended to spur anything, it’s just a PR move which the management knows isn’t going to change anything. as a landlord, if i decide i don’t want to rent to indians, sorry this bullshit “feature” is not going to convince or pressure me to do so. in fact, it might inspire me to seek alternative platforms which don’t attempt to demonize landlords who have legitimate concerns about certain demographics.

        you know what i want to see? i want to see darius cheung buy properties, and then rent them exclusively to indians and PRCs – put his money where his mouth is. then i want to see how he manage those people, i’d love to see his views after a few years of that hell.

        • Proud to be Indian

          Didn’t realise ALL Indians were demons and the native Chinese Singaporean are angelic when it came to rentals. A racist scumbag is what I would call Not a Fan.

        • Stuart chan

          What’s the problem? He is bringing up a real issue that he experienced and didn’t like? This is not some PR move that your tiny brain filled with cotton candy and embalming fluid conjured up. Take your fraudulent reply and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    • CryingSoul

      I am a recruiter at one of the leading firms here in Singapore. The amount of racial discrimination we’re told to actively employ while searching for candidates to match to client firms is staggering – as it turns out, most firms have a no Indian policy too. As a fellow Indian, I want to put it out there – the struggle is real for Indians in this country.

      • Nobody

        Maybe because the employer cant articulate in English.

      • Darius Cheung

        wow. i had no idea. thanks for sharing – it would be great if you can share that comment on here as well so people can know the stories and take a stand –

      • Arjun

        Thanks for sharing this – I’ve heard it put rather more diplomatically once before by a recruiter who’s himself Indian. And once earlier by another recruiter who just passed on the message from her client verbatim. I am curious to know how many times it’s happening in large MNCs which claim to be equal opportunity employers. If it’s only restricted to smaller local companies then it’s not that surprising but the former would be truly appalling!

    • Nobody

      I am an Indian & have been working in Malaysia for the past five years. My girl friend is Malaysian Indian. Yet i faced the same experience everytime i moved place. I dont blame the landlord/lady as its human nature to fear something we dont know enough. Plus we all are inherently racist at some level. Would you rent your house to an African. I know i would’nt.

      • Darius Cheung

        i am sorry to hear that, racism is real and hard to eradicate – but it doesn’t mean we cannot improve it bit by bit, in ways we can influence.

        • sumeet sarangi

          Man Mr. Nobody.
          I am sorry to hear that Mr nobody wouldnt rent to an African.
          Its a sad state of affairs that people do not actively seek out international opportunities abroad to broaden their minds and look at someone’s social and economic status rather than the race.

      • Gee Na

        Urghh .. R u saying .. u r facing this problem in Msia too?

    • Disappointed

      Yes people may fear something they don’t know and out of that fear, discriminate. But we should never generalise. There are bad apples in every community, race or nationality, but to discriminate purely on grounds of race, religion and nationality cannot be condoned. The reality we live in everyday is full of biases and prejudices. I acknowledge that. But that doesn’t it make it fundamentally right.

      • Nobody

        Wish i met more people like you:) & less people like me:(


          A kind hearted, gem of a person once said to me, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” He is the most generous, considerate and non-discriminating person I know. An inspiration that gives me hope that people can be better. 🙂

    • SupporterFromAfar

      As a Chinese person who is married to someone from a different race, one of the things we cherish about our marriage is the mutual embrace of our cultural differences and identities, so much so that we actually adopted each other’s last names when we got married. So the idea that you may have to force your children to choose one identity over another because “it will be easier” is heartbreaking to me and my wife. I applaud you for taking a stand and I hope things will change in the long run.

      P.S. Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter. You have a beautiful family.

    • David

      I feel ashamed by fellow humans to do this. One thing i really hope that we can move forward not assimilating race as an issue. I understand its everywhere but really it also shows the low mentality of acceptance by those who only serve a few races. Trying to be more nazi than the Germans

    • The sort of thing you describe is illegal in the UK where I live, and should be illegal in Singapore too. But then there are race quotas in HDB estates (I appreciate that the reasons are not quite the same, but still …).

    • Charles Chan

      I am convinced every ethnic group deserved to be respected. I have been discriminated even when I have the same skin colour when I was working in China. Back then, I faced discrimination from my Hollander superior and Pinoy colleague. Why Singapore get such a remark when we exhibit such behaviour? We do have some bad experiences with some foreigners here. We also met some that are very nice.
      For the past 20 years, I believed we have help more foreigners to grow rather than snub them away. But how many people know that we are paying a lot more for our university education, is it because part of it was being used to supplement the foreigners scholarship? Our local talents lost more opportunites for promotion just because many foreigners are in management. In knowledge and skills, we do not lose out to foreigners, in fact, most of us are committed to our work as well. I do hope readers can understand our sentiments and not jump conclusion on Singapore.

    • Others

      Discrimination is inherent in Singapore society, mostly because of “better than thou” mentality. Singapore Indians do this to Indians from India. Singapore Chinese do this to Chinese from China. You can imagine what happens when you are categorized under “other” race here.
      I’ve even heard a new citizen being told, “you’re not a real Singaporean”.

      I hope your initiative makes a difference, I have my doubts nonetheless…

      • Michelle McReynolds

        Well said. Brava!

    • Look Deeper

      Being in the real estate industry , I would like to offer a view from the other side .

      First thing – discrimination doesnt come from the agents or real estate people – it is upon the request from the landlords that agent s act upon.

      So making a statement that the real estate industry is discriminating is the furthest from the truth one can get.

      It is the job of the real estate salesperson to screen through potential clients according to the landlord instructions – saving themselves and the tenants time. I do agree some agents are not tactful and sound rude during the screening process.

      I’ve noticed this problem since the day I joined the industry and given the chance I did manage to speak to some owners regarding this. After all, as salesperson we wanted to close the deal fast and the less requirement (or discrimination) would actually be better for us. By limiting certain profile the landlord is actually making the potential tenant pool smaller.

      After speaking to many of them , the reason for this “discriminating” attitude actually stem from bad experience. I would just relate two here .

      A landlord I worked with actually used to rent to any race or nationality. But one day he called me and asked me to look for a tenant for him, and specifically told me he would not consider Indian race or nationality. I was curious and asked him why. He told me he rented his house to an Indian family for two years. After the lease end, he took over the house and found that, despite the house being in acceptable condition, the house is filled with smell of incense. The smell linger on even he had engaged professional cleaning company because the incense smell had been absorbed into the wall etc. He had to engage a contractor to scrap all the paint and repaint the whole house. Even after doing that l, traces of snell still remain.

      Another case involve a local landlord renting her room to a PRC’s Chinese. To her horror this tenant worn his shoes into the house and room even she repeatably tell him not to do so. Another landlord complain to me her PRC tenant cook in the room. There was once a viewing which I bought my buyer to view this house that was tenanted to a group of PRC’s chinese. We were shocked when the tenant invite us into the house and room and telling us we do not need to remove our shoes.

      The above illustrate a certain point : that most landlord discriminate because of past bad experience. They do not wish to go through the same thing again and thus opt to limit off certain profile of tenants.

      It is generalization – that’s true. But can we actually blame the landlords for acting in such a way? Human generalize and avoid “bad experiences” – that’s how human evolve and survive. Does that make it right to do so? Most certainly not, but how do you convince a person who had went through bad experience to take the same path again?

      It is indeed a real struggle.

      I personally support this initiative. But the root cause of this issue run way deep and would not be change with a petition or pledge over a short period of time.

      • Darius Cheung

        Thank you for the kind comment, I really appreciate your sharing and yes we do know that all of what you said is true. Allow me to provide some clarity on the goals of our campaign:

        1) Agents are NOT at fault. It is clearly stated in the article that generally it is the landlord who gives the agents the mandate and that is what needs to change

        2) In fact, agents are stuck between two parties – landlords who want them to screen out certain race and nationality, and yet they cannot explicitly put it in a listing, so they have to try to subtly divert enquiries away when they know the profile would not suit landlord’s requirement.

        3) This creates what we call “the blackhole” in our team – many times we get feedback from users who are susceptible to discrimination saying that their enquires never gets answered, or were answered with some vague “profile doesn’t match” response (and once in a while, a ruder version of that, which we won’t repeat here)

        4) This is a lose-lose situation for agents and tenants, and i would argue for the landlord too.

        5) Vacancy rate is all all-time high and many landlords are complaining they cannot rent out their place – but yet they may not recognise the economical cost of discrimination.

        6) Yes agreed some tenants may damage the place more than others, that’s a fact, and its entirely in the landlord’s rights to lookout for that – families with young children and tenants with pets are likely to cause more damage, these are well accepted generalizations because they have a high likelihood of being true

        7) However, we cannot apply this generalization to race or nationality! Not only would that be a sweeping baseless assumption, it also crosses the line to create hurt and anger – there is a better way!

        >> If the landlord has any reason to feel like a tenant might cause more damage or might be less favourable (whether his opinion is based on young children or pets or race) – he can always increase the rent or request for additional deposit – that is a much more harmonious and reasonable (and economically smarter) approach to achieve his goals.

        To give you my personal example, had the landlord just be open to say – “hey, i’ll rent to you but i require an additional month deposit”, a few things would have happened –

        a) we would have said yes (and we would have been happy to get our first choice of a home)
        b) landlord would have rented out the place earlier and collected more rent
        c) agent would have not wasted their time and close the case earlier and gotten commissions earlier

        All three parties would have been better off, and if we did damage the place more than usual, the extra month of deposit would have easily covered it.


        Our goal here is in fact, to help create a momentum to help educate landlords, so they are more open to the demand they are discriminating against, so all three parties – the landlords, the agents and the tenants – all can benefit from a better solution. In order for that to happen, we hope to create a momentum so that all-races-welcome listings can get discovered and probably would be favoured by tenants who are susceptible to discrimination – perhaps with that the landlords would reflect and be accepting to all (and adjust the pricing economics accordingly as they perceive risk and cost).

        • rc

          Hi Darius, I believe many do understand the frustrations you have gone through. I have been there before also. Some HDB buyers also have been there before when they are not accepted in a particular block of flats due to not having met the ethnic group quota. So would you also call that discrimination?

          Reasonably the government will argue that its to “protect” the social environment there and will therefore not be called discrimination, am I right?Similarly with landlords, they are only behaving exactly the same way… being “protective” of their property, so I guess it would not be reasonable to categorize them as being discriminating.

          Anyway in the former case, do you think any proposal for compensation will be able to “move” or assure the government that their “protection” will not be jeopardize? I really very much doubt so. Hence buyers normally just accept their fate and move to look elsewhere. Similarly with the latter, maybe some landlords can accept your proposal, but many will still shun off from it especially since they had already had so many bad experiences or heard many bad reports before.

          To them no extra deposit will be able to compensate for the lose they may incur on the repairs or refurnishing (especially for cases where some tenants run away without completing their contract & some who ran off with landlord’s furniture)

          On the flip side, I think your suggestion may pose a new issue from a tenant’s viewpoint. This is so if for eg a unit was advt for rent for $2500 but because of race issue, the agent told the prospective tenant the landlord may consider if their rent was $3000 instead. How do you think the tenant will feel? Wouldn’t there be cries of discrimination again?

          In conclusion, I guess it would be much easier to RESPECT the decision made by landlords rather than demanding them to RESPECT race differences since it is more challenging for them to overcome their fear of making loses or even losing their whole property (in some cases). Who knows you may probably also feel that way if one day you too are the owner of a property. Cheers!

        • Look Deeper

          Hi Darius,

          If you didn’t realise, what you suggested is also a form of “discrimination. Why should certain “profile” be asked to pay more rent or deposit? The suggestion of that would definitely get questioning and same discrimination reaction.

          The rental market follow free market economy rules. Landlord will only relent when their pocket hurt. If they can hold and find tenants which match their profile requirements, be it taking a longer time,they will not change their attitude. There are even many who rather accept lower rental from those that fit their profile requirements than accepting higher rent from those that they do not prefer.

          That tell us something: the root of the issue is deeper than racism. There is a saying: “Once bitten twice shy.” It’ easy to slap a political correct slang on this and make it a “racial” issue. But in fact many a time it’s the bad experience with certain tenant profile that result in such attitude from landlords.

          We have to call a spade a spade. And thus personally I feel your campaign would surely raise awareness and debate, but in the end won’t achieve any real change because it assumes and addresses the wrong issue as a whole. And in the process you alienate and offend many landlords because it only reflected one side of the coin.

          As a media and CEO of a property website, it would be good for you to take a neutral stand and publish articles that are objective and not bias. On a personal level, the article is a reaction of your own personal experience, and would it be fair to say you are showing certain form of bias and “discrimination” against those landlords without telling their side of the story?

          Again, we all are guilty of certain from of “discrimination” every day of our life.

          Again, I recognise what you are doing is positive nevertheless.

    • RR

      I lived in quite a few cities and have seen my fair share of discrimination. At the same time I was also accepted and welcomed by most in these cities who made my stay a happy memorable experience. I believe its to do with fear and a lack of understanding of a different culture and background that leads to the discrimination. Often it could be the result of one bad experience and then the tendency to generalise an entire group based on that experience.
      Education is key as well as getting some positive experiences. We cannot fix the problem by shaming and hating people who discriminate. Need to understand where they are coming from and changing their views. It would be a slow process but a more effective one. Hate begets hate and we need to show love to find the right answers.

    • Taz Sharip

      Discrimination has always exist and still does until today. I am a Singaporean Indian Muslim lady, who grew up in the Malay community and have Malay as my 2nd language. Most of the time when I get a call back from the job agencies, first question they asked (apart from the education status ) is the race…It does not matter that I can write and speak good English and have more than 10 years of experience etc etc, what matters to these people is that I am not Chinese and worse an Indian and funny enough, all the jobs that I have applied for needs someone who can speak Chinese! And sometime, I explained that I can speak Mandarin and understand Mandarin very well, they just claimed they wanted just a chinese person to do the job and not an Indian.. So discrmination has exist from before and up until today …

    • Manjula

      This is addressed to the person called “Nobody” who said he would not rent to Africans. I am sorry, but I am so mad after hearing this….how can you discriminate against the people of an entire continent?
      You do understand that it is a huge continent with many, many countries, don’t you?

      Even I am an Indian from the South. Many years ago, back in India, we had many students from Kenya studying there. One night, my uncle and aunt found a poor Kenyan African lady sitting by the side of the road at midnight and crying. She had been kicked out of her rental home in the middle night.
      Whatever the reason, it was wrong for them to throw her out at night, knowing well the streets are not safe there. It was horrible and racist.
      My aunt and Uncle took her home with them till she was able to find an other place for 2-3 days.

      So Nobody, I hope you understand we are humans first.

    • kumar

      I don’t get this lets clarify is this about Singaporean Chinese and Singaporean Indian or about Chinese and Indian? Or about Singaporean Chinese and Indian?

    • chandu naresh

      Good Initiative. But, I must admit that Singaporeans overall are well receptive.

      Previously I used your site to find a suitable accommodation for my family, when we were shifting to Singapore.

    • Charles Xavier

      Dear Darius,

      However other than accusing landlords of racial discrimination, your article does not provide any analysis why landlords reject certain tenant profiles that are known to intentionally damage rented property.

      You assumed a 2-months rental deposit is adequate to compensate the landlord if a wayward tenant messes up the property. In reality, the economic loss to the landlord will way exceed 2-months, and the losses will include:

      (1) Cost of repair works
      (2) Cost of new furniture
      (3) Loss of rental revenue during the down time when repair works are carried out
      (4) Running expenses during the down time
      (5) Opportunity cost of landlord’s time to reinstate the property

      Some landlords simply do want to go through the hassle and pain of that process even if rental deposits are adequate. At the end of the day, landlords are pragmatic and commercially driven. The reasons for rejecting certain tenant profiles are more often economic in nature.

      • Anu

        This perception is incredibly racist – “certain tenant profiles that are known to intentionally damage rented property”. It’s a disgusting, discriminatory attitude to have and is often based on anecdotal evidence. Do you believe an average Indian or Chinese family with good, stable jobs in Singapore would purposefully damage property?

    • Dave

      “While there are genuine concerns that are well within the rights of a landlord to screen for, linking these concerns to race and stereotyping prospective tenants as such is baseless.”

      I just hope you realise it is not baseless. There are cultural influences at work that you don’t simply ignore. Example: Almost every PRC male smokes. Its a cultural thing. So if the landlord doesn’t wish to rent to a smoker, he can save himself a whole of time by excluding PRCs

      • Adam R.

        Hi Dave,

        How about listing it as “non-smoker” instead, like what hotels do? By the way, to say all PRC males smoke is a argument fallacy – see this

        Adam R.

      • GT

        Hi Dave, I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m genuinely curious – If the landlord doesn’t wish to rent to a smoker, wouldn’t the landlord save more time by excluding smokers directly?

    • Iris

      This is horrible. Isn’t racism illegal in Singapore? I am a foreigner here but that is what I have been told. The text saying they can’t rent a place to you just because your wife is Indian should be enough for them to be charged with racism, isn’t it?

    • Mel

      Darius.. how wonderful that you married an Indian girl! Had I known you were open to Indian girls, I would have tried to get you to ‘pak tor’ me!

      After 20 years here and having faced the same problem countless times, you know what I did? I said I was Eurasian! Since I am not very dark, and when well made up, can pass of as Eurasian, and I give a pseudonym. Of course IF and when it comes to the papers and they see my last name is Indian, I say my father is Indian and mother is ‘ang mo’.

      I have been tenant for many years and I have been a sub-letter. Its a lot of generalisation about the Indians from India and Chinese from China. Having lived with many races in Singapore and other countries, I know for a fact that race has got nothing to do with how dirty or clean one is. Its got to do with upbringing and general courtesy and house etiquette. So, the way to do i is to lay the rules from day one. Either as a flatmate or as a landlord; lay down the non-negotiables and do spot checks.

    • Sivadutta

      Glad to know that Some Singapore landlords discriminate people. I was in a misconception about Singapore as a role model for all Asian countries.

    • Joe

      Singaporean is one of the world most successful multi-cultural society, It is really sad that we now have this situation and an internet property startup has to take up this social issue. Is the root cause due to high foreign workers in Singapore amounting to 30% of population, rising too fast in the last decade before the society is able to integrate and accept the new reality?

    • Tom

      The sad, ironic reality is that racism is color-blind. There are racist white people, racist yellow people, racist black people — let’s just hope when the little green people visit us they are also not racist. All joking aside, as an Asian growing up in a mostly Caucasian society I have first-hand accounts of the deep prejudice many Asians have against African Americans, Mexicans, and yes, Indians (though they are OK with white people, which suggests it is about the skin color). In fact, I feel sometimes Asians are even more racist than the racist Caucasians. After living in an Asian country such as Singapore, the only difference I can tell is that the racism here is more blatant than in the west, although thank goodness it is also less violent.

      Racism is as ingrained in human nature as xenophobia, greed, etc. There is a saying, “to err is human” — well, there is this less popular saying: “to be racist is human.” Your regardless-or-race campaign is a good, honorable gesture, but what you are really trying to solve is human behavior, which is not an easy thing to do.

    • Suhrit Kumar

      Hi Darius,

      I have an idea that I wanted to suggest to you. One thing I find missing is that pretty much all the property portals in SG have no rating/review system for the agents who are publishing their listing on the website. I feel there should be a system where as a consumer I am not not able to rate the service provided to me by the property agent but also review his service.

      I recently had a very bad experience with a property agent (and I did complain about him to CEA) but I feel that other people who may use his services should be able to read my review.

      Also this ties in with the topic you have posted on above. If the property agent is tolerating listings with racists landlords or worse is racist himself/herself then more so I would like other people to know about his or her behavior.

      Let me know what you think of this.


    • Ri Li

      I am one of those landlords who do not want to rent to Indians because of past experiences. When the Indian family’s contract ended, they left my home and kitchen filled with cockroaches, there were kid drawings on the ceiling and their prayer area left oil/smoke stains on the ceilings and walls.

      Our neighbours also told us that there are many strangers staying with them, so they may have rented
      out rooms too.

      That’s why I do not rent to Indians anymore. I’m not being a racist but I expect tenants to respect my
      property and my concerns too.


    • Indian

      Ri Li,

      Discriminating against an entire race on the basis of actions of few individuals is exactly the definition of being a racist. How is this different from Trumps comments against Mexicans and Muslims?

      • Ri Li

        Not true. I am discriminating based on my past experience with a Tenant whose lifestyle and religious practise turned my apartment into a cesspool of cockroaches with scented oil stains on the ceiling.

        Get off your moral high horse and focus on the issue here.

    • Gavin

      Why stop at racial discrimination? What about renting out to ex-offenders, lesbian couples, gay couples, pet owners, asthmatics, elderlies and so forth.

      Seems to me that your only championing a cause that you’re affected by, making it a self-serving one. Won’t pledge.

      • Adam R.

        Hi Gavin,

        Championing a cause because a person or people are affected by a certain issue is exactly how social movements start for the greater good.

        Taking your statement as examples, we have these social movements:

        Ex-offenders: Yellow Ribbon
        Gay/Lesbians: Pink Dot
        Pet Owners: ACRES / SPCA
        Elderlies: SG Cares
        Asthmatics: Asthma and Allergy Association (AAA)

        Pretty sure that they aren’t self-serving.

        Adam R.

    • Augustine

      You could have rented my place. I never believe in discrimination as long as the rental is at market rate and the tenants pay me promptly on time every time and they are good tenants.

    • renata

      this is such a wonderful and beautiful initiative, it really touched my heart. i wished there were more of these actions in the world. all the best to you and your beautiful family!

    • tesserdecades

      there are two routes for me to go to work. on a good day, both routes take me the same amount of time to get to work. but, based on past experience, route A will usually take longer due to jams and accidents. it makes my boss and clients really angry when i am late for work. route B is slightly more expensive, but less likelihood of congestion.

      what is the rational decision to make here? i know that just because route A jams more frequently doesn’t mean it will jam every day. am i willing to risk the jam to save the extra money it would take from route B?

      people make rational decisions. if given two options, they will take the one with less perceived risk. it is easy to play the racism card, but sometimes it is simply people trying to maximize gain and minimize risk to themselves.

    • Juls

      It’s sad that people are engaging in discriminatory behaviour.
      However, as a tenant myself, I would also not fancy it if I had to share a flat with other tenants who are inconsiderate. I’m sorry that a lot of people have poor experiences with certain races.
      But the truth is, you can be renting your place to ANYONE and it turns out he or she is dirty as hell and made the house into a pig Sty. And it’s not race-specific. I live with a local Chinese lady and she has poor hygiene and love to burn incense in the house cos she thinks it’s therapeutic.. Again, it is nt race specific.
      it is ALways gonna be a bet and a risk regardless of which race or nationality you rent your place out to.
      I think a good solution is not asking for MORE deposit, as a landlord, you should set some house rules upfront to prevent your tenants from engaging in certain behavior that you find to be grossly unacceptable.
      I would encourage landlords to be positive and open minded but also firm.
      Remind them that they aren’t living alone, so have some mutual respect for individual behavior and quirks.

    • Tiny houses are really becoming! I seriously don’t think I could live in one.


      BRAVO Darius – thank you for sharing your story and doing such GOOD WORK!

    • Roy

      It’s March 2022, six years since the post. Yet me and family are facing the same predicament. With supply of rental units very low and rentals are sky high, 75% of the landlords’ agents have declined to let us even have a conversation. We have less than 6 weeks before our current contract expires and we have almost given up.
      Btw we are an Indian family if 3, permanent residents, who neither smoke, nor burn incense sticks. We cook our meals which is why houses have kitchen but Thanks to my wife our kitchen shines almost like it was handed over to us. Not all Indians or people of any race are same. I am deeply saddened that we had to face this when we had been a huge advocate of how Singapore is a shining example of a harmonious society to the world.

    • Chip

      I second Roy’s comment above – 6 years on, nothing has changed. If anything, covid has probably made things worse. It’s sad that despite growing up in the UK as an ethnic minority 25 years ago, I’ve experienced more racism in Singapore now.

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