Gov’t mulls including ‘anti-racial discrimination’ to fair housing policy

Modified 26 Apr 2019, 6:59 am

The federal government is preparing a fair housing policy, which among others would include provisions to address racially discriminatory practices by tenants and landlords.

Housing and Local Government Ministry director-general N Jayaselan stated that his ministry is looking at the similar Fair Housing Act in the United States for guidance.

According to The Malaysian Insight (TMI), Jayaseelan stated that the fair housing policy would ensure the welfare of stakeholders, including tenants and landlords, and would cover both the rental market and ownership.

“The goal is a unitary housing or property market to streamline all existing laws and future laws related to property.

“This will give a big picture and standard practice in all states related to land, development and approval.

“This policy which will make it easier for developers, buyers, and investors in Malaysia,” he was quoted saying by TMI.

Jayaseelan added, however, that incorporating the planned provisions in any one individual act would not necessarily solve the problem. Hence, the need for an overarching policy, he said.

“For elements of race, we have to have a fair housing policy. We cannot put it in under an individual act […]

“We cannot narrow down and say that an act will solve the race-based (issues). We need a policy or a guiding principle to solve the problem,” he reportedly said.

Jayaseelan further reportedly acknowledged that the practice of certain landlords to only seek tenants of a certain race constituted discrimination, but pointed out there were other forms of discrimination in the housing market.

“But discrimination is not only limited to race. It can also exist in the form of religious and economic status discrimination,” he said.

'Regulate price discorvery too'

Meanwhile in a separate statement today, the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (Peps) urged the government to tackle the lack of price transparency in the primary housing market.

It said the lack of regulation on price discovery is the reason for inflated house prices, not valuation or valuation technology.

It pointed out that unlike the secondary market, price discovery in the primary housing market is poor since the public does not know the real prices of properties after various incentives and rebates are taken into account.

This until a potential buyer proceeds with the purchase, and in some instance, these incentives could amount to a reduction between 20 to 30 percent of a property’s advertised price.

“This gives rise to the main ‘inefficiency’ in the housing market that is preventing house prices from adjusting downwards to a more sustainable and transparent median house price ratio as against income […]

“Peps calls upon the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to immediately sanction that all advertisements in the primary market for houses to carry not only the ‘headline price’ but the actual price at which a buyer can secure a purchase.

“The incentives and rebates must be detailed out in the advertisement and brochures, in the interest of transparency for the house buying public and for assisting in creating a more efficient housing market,” it said.

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