Singapore is a cultural melting pot and for decades people from different races have coexisted here in harmony and with mutual respect. However, there are sporadic instances that impact the perception of someone who is new in the country.
Before someone jumps to a conclusion it is better to see the root cause of such issues and social prejudices that has developed around it.
For the newcomers, one of the first encounters might happen is while renting a place in Singapore. There are rental listings where the landlord might have mentioned “No Indians No PRCs” or “Prefer Non-PRC and Indians”; these listings are very less in number and sometimes it also comes with some apology for such a behaviour. But it is still there.
Many factors have typecasted an entire race and in spite of the government’s effort to educate people, the private views of some people cannot be altered easily.
One of the most stereotypical factors can be “cooking smelly curries” and the oil and soot collected over months can leave a permanent stench to the property impacting the rental value in the market.
Some landlords are scared to take that risk and some of their actions get translated to a racial slur.
It is not true that anyone coming from China or India are heavy cooks and are irresponsible in keeping their house clean; it varies from one individual to another and this risk is evident even if the house is rented to tenants from any other nationality.
One such incident happened with Kelly Teow who had no restriction in renting a property to any gender, race or ethnicity but ended up being a victim of an experimental cook as a tenant, who doubled up being the most reluctant cleaner.
Not a MasterChef tenant
“He used to cook for hours and never cleaned the kitchen.”
Kelly – I live in a five bedder HDB in Marine Parade and have been living alone for last two years since my wife passed away. My son suggested that I should rent out a bedroom and share the common places with someone, who can be of some company to me if needed.
TRUrental – Did you have any specifications of a particular ethnic background?
Kelly – Not at all! I have always worked in oil & gas sector and my job involved long-term posting in various places around the world. I have friends from all community and ethnicity, so I definitely had no reservations.
So, when I met my new tenant who mentioned that he had travelled and stayed in different countries, I was very excited that thought that I got a perfect match and we can have some common topic to discuss and it would not be boring. Plus, he was very jovial and friendly. I liked his attitude!
TRUrental – Ok so what kind of problem you had?
Kelly – Well, in a few days I noticed that he is a bit clumsy and does not bother much to use the common area and kitchen but not clean things afterwards.
In a few days I also realized that he perhaps was not having much of a outside work and spent most of his time in the house and to my utter surprise, he started cooking a lot. My kitchen was not used a lot and I rarely cooked something for myself. So it was a bit uncomfortable!
However, that was not the problem. He was a terrible cook and a very dirty one too. He used to cook up a storm in the kitchen and it emitted some terrible burnt and foul smell of whatever ingredients he used. One day my son visited and immediately got the smell when he entered the flat. I decided I had to talk to him.
He insisted that cooking is his passion and he is proud to be a great cook. I guess I had to ask him to look for an alternative because I could not have survived with the terrible stink for any longer. I was also tired of constantly cleaning the entire mess after every cooking session!
It was tough for me to respect someone and to talk against his passion without hurting his feelings but had to do that to save myself from that terrible state.
He left but later whenever asked for a rent I clarified about their eating and cooking habits. It is not nice but I am quite scared to live under the same roof with someone who can be a nightmare to me.
TRUrental – We understand. It is important to have a candid chat with your tenant before renting out your place. We always recommend that.
It can be frightening; letting a stranger into the house. And so it is possible that one fall back on racial/cultural stereotypes and reject the unfamiliar. Don’t worry. TRUrental is working with insurance partners to give both tenant and landlord their peace of mind.
Be it home emergencies in the middle of the night or just bad luck, we will cover you. We are also working with MyInfo to verify the identities of the users.
We at TRUUUE Tenant (also known as TRUrental Tenant) are committed to delivering the best experience suited for both landlord and tenant while they rent in Singapore. We care about all the parties in the property transaction; we always aim for the WIN-WIN outcome. As you are reading this, our team is working relentlessly to find a suitable solution for these issues. To know more about our mission, follow us and download our app. Enjoy peace of mind for your next rental!