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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Racial discrimination does exist in Malaysia’s property rental market, Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican acknowledged in Parliament today.

However, he said it would be “very awkward” to enact a law that seeks a fair balance between the rights of both landlords and tenants while including the landlord’s preference for certain tenants, even if other countries have clear-cut anti-discrimination legislations.

“The discrimination issue raised by YB, yes it is true, I have listened and seen it myself but at this moment we are still studying in detail in terms of local circumstances.

“There are similar Acts in Australia and even in the United States which prohibits any form of sale advertisements by including one’s preference.

“But in Malaysia, when we talk about discrimination, it comes down to preference. It would be very awkward to have Acts supporting the preference of owners’ rights but we will conduct further studies on the suitability of including the elements raised by YB,” Reezal Merican said during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was replying Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming who wanted to know if the soon-to-be tabled Residential Tenancy Act would address racial discrimination in Malaysia’s property rental market.

Reezal Merican said the “real spirit” of the proposed law is to balance the rights of tenants and property owners.

He said the Residential Tenancy Act is meant to standardise rental agreements and establish a tribunal to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords.

“At this moment, the preparation of residential rental agreements utilises the procedures stipulated under the Contract Act where the agreements are generally non-comprehensive and do not fully protect the interests and rights of tenants and owners of premises,” he said.

He said the new law is in the final stages of its drafting and is scheduled for tabling in Parliament in July 2022.

Reezal Merican explained that the draft of Malaysia’s Residential Tenancy Act is modelled after the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 in New South Wales, Australia.

He added that similar laws from Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa were used as comparisons.

“Apart from comprehensive stakeholders’ meetings, a Regulatory Impact Assessment will also be implemented by the Malaysia Productivity Corporation to identify and assess the effects from suggestions gathered towards the drafting of the Bill,” he said.

He also pointed out that since the relationship between landlords and their tenants fell under the state’s jurisdiction as provided under Article 76(4) of the Federal Constitution, proposals outlined in the Bill is set for tabling in the National Council for Local Government before it is presented to the Attorney General’s Chambers for a final review.

Source: Malay Mail/ Kenneth Tee, 01 Nov 2021

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