Almost a quarter of Singaporeans have faced racism when renting property: YouGov survey

Nearly one in four Singaporeans have faced racial discrimination when renting properties.
Singapore Press Holdings

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Singaporeans have faced ethnic discrimination when renting properties, according to a survey done by market research company YouGov.

The survey – based on 1,539 Singaporeans – found that Singaporean Indians and Malays were the most affected groups. Around one in two (49 per cent) Singaporean Indians and one in three (34 per cent) Singaporean Malays said that they’ve had to deal with racial discrimination when renting properties.

This was considerably higher than the proportion of Singaporean Chinese who had felt this way, at 18 per cent.


23 per cent of all respondents said that they have faced racial discrimination when renting property.

Most important type of background information to landlords

In general, the top types of background information that landlords wanted to know was nationality (65 per cent), followed by gender (63 per cent) and occupation (60 per cent).

And around 22 per cent of all respondents said they believed sexual orientation should be made known to the landlord.


While some respondents said they have faced racial discrimination in the rental market, a considerable proportion of Singaporeans also said that they believed and supported the idea of landlords only renting to preferred races.

Around 32 per cent said that they believed it makes “good business sense”, while 42 per cent agreed with the statement that “some races are more likely than others to be bad tenants”.

“While ethnic minorities feel more strongly about the issue than others, the majority believe landlords should be left to their own devices,” said Jake Gammon, head of YouGov Omnibus in Asia Pacific.

According to YouGov, the survey data was statistically weighted to the national online profile of all adults aged 18 and above.

Frustrating experiences

In 2016, property website’s founder Darius Cheung, who is married to Tickled Media founder Roshni Mahtani, penned a blog post about the frustrating process of renting a home to welcome their new baby in.

According to Cheung, more than 20 per cent of the 30 queries he made with realtors were rejected upfront because of his wife’s name.

One response the couple got from an agent simply said: “Sorry your wife is Indian, landlord won’t rent to you. Next time please indicate earlier, so we both don’t waste time.”

Read also: Racism in Malaysia’s housing market: how landlords get away with barring African and South Asian tenants