M'sian PR told HDB flat for rent is 'Christian house', landlord disallows 'idol, statue' & incense burning
Mothership.sg - 10/6/2021; Last Update - 10/25/2021

This is a three-bedroom HDB flat for rent at Spottiswoode Park Road.

Looks pretty spacious, airy, and with plenty of natural light.

The flat also boasts rooms with air-conditioning and some electrical appliances.

One man in Singapore, who is a Malaysian permanent resident, took an interest in this listing displayed on PropertyGuru, and shared his experience with Mothership.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, then contacted the property agent stated on the website, asking if he could view the unit.

In response, the agent listed off several things to note:

One thing stood out though — "Christian house".

After enquiring what exactly that phrase meant, the agent rattled off an elaborate set of conditions, which were apparently established by the landlord, stemming from personal preferences and beliefs.

As the landlord of the flat is "very particular" and a "staunch Christian", tenants are apparently not allowed to practice any other religion in the flat, the interested tenant was told.

According to the agent's message, tenants are not allowed to bring in other religious artefacts, such as "any idol, statue, picture, figure of any kind".

Burning of incense, joss sticks and "paper" is also not permitted.

This is accompanied by other requirements, where only Singaporean and Malaysian tenants are accepted, and any male and female pair renting the flat together must be married.

Ironically, the message was accompanied with a statement that the requirements were "without prejudice".

Aside from the requirement specifying the nationality of the tenant, the other conditions were not stated on the listing on the PropertyGuru website.

The man, who is not a Christian, shared that upon receiving such a reply, his "shock was immense".

He did not deign to give the agent a reply considering her "insensitive" message.

"I did not respond to her insensitive message, regardless of how it turns out, I cannot see how it will benefit me," he said.

Although he has received replies of "Chinese only" from other agents, this was the first time he has encountered this sort of establishing of rules process during his house-hunting thus far.

He shared that his aim is not to expose anyone in this case, but to raise awareness on the type of prejudices prevalent in the open market.

The man also called for PropertyGuru to filter listings that states outright certain ethnic preferences for tenants.

The Article 12(2) of the Singapore Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of religion for Singapore citizens.

According to practice guidelines by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) for real estate agents, under the Estate Agents Act, the only guideline which mentions religious discrimination is one that address discriminatory advertising.

However, while agents are not allowed to advertise the preference for a particular religion, the problem could be pushed downstream, when the agent imposes the landlord's preference when someone looks to rent the property.

Also, home owners who don't use licensed agents are not subject to CEA guidelines.

Follow and listen to our podcast here

Top photo from PropertyGuru and Mothership reader