Friday, August 16, 2013

Of Race and Prejudice

Today I have seen the worst part of some Malaysians. A friend, (now a former friend) had asked me to help her find tenants for her condo. So I advertised it for her. Last week, an estate agent called me and said there is an African guy interested to view it. I made an appointment and I have also made arrangements to show several other vacant units belonging to other friends.

The viewing went well. The client agreed to the price but he had a few requests. As all the units we viewed were the same in layout and have the same old furniture, he didn't mind which unit he takes as long as the owner agrees to change the sofa and dining chairs - which were dirty and heinous. He also wanted WiFi, an LED TV and a clothes dryer. He asked me which unit he should go for and I said this former friend since she lives far away and always had problems finding tenants and I thought she was kind and uncomplicated.

Actually at first I was right. I called her up and asked her if she wants to rent to this client since many people had concerns about renting to Africans, Arabs, Eastern Europeans and mainland Chinese. I interviewed the client during the viewing and I am satisfied he is OK. And I interviewed him because I would always find out first the background of the would-be tenant no matter what race or nationality he or she is and not because he is an African. This former friend decided yes she is happy to rent her condo to him and agreed to the conditions except for the LED TV. In fact, during the next 3 days she even called me to find out how to apply for broadband and she was even going to shop for the furnitures. I told her to hold her excitement until the contract is signed and the deposit collected as some tenants tend to back out at the last minute.

So on the day of signing, she couldn't make it and she sent her friend, P. P is not a pleasant person at all to deal with and she seemed like she was forced there at gun point. When she saw the tenant, she excused herself to go meet another friend who lives in that building. Subsequently, we sat at the lobby waiting for 2 hours while she said she could not contact the owner. Then she asked us to go up to her friend's place which was a duplex loft office. While we sat there waiting for another 30mins, P's friend called me up to the loft office which was not partitioned and in full ear of everyone in the office he said he has adviced P to call the owner to reconsider. His tone of voice was really hostile and he said 1st of all, I am not an estate broker therefore I am not allowed to do this. Then he went on and on about Africans coming to this country to cheat people and sell drugs. All in full ear of everyone without even a speck of consideration for other people's feelings and yet, this office is a law firm!

After telling this lawyer off and explaining the circumstances and that I have had 3-4 days of discussions with the owner before today's signing, he finally said OK. When I went back downstairs, the tenant who had overheard all the conversation said he wants to back off. Then I reassured him that the owner is a nice person and it's only her friends creating problems. So, he went ahead and signed the contract. A few minutes after that, the owner called and said she is not going to provide the tenant a car park. I asked what was the problem and why so petty. She just simply replied no car park and if he doesn't like it, he can find other apartments to rent. Then she rudely hung up.

I am absolutely at a loss of words and the amount of disgusts I had was simply undescribable. And to think I was doing all this to help her!

I have just this to say. In my many years of renting my properties out, I have come across many types of people. No doubt there are Africans out there who cheat people and traffic drugs plus they seem to have developed a bad reputation among themselves but there are also Malaysians, Arabs, Caucasians, other Asians and many other races involved in the drug trade but nobody ever emphasized or worry about it when they are renting to them. Also about cleanliness. People tell me Arabs are very dirty. But I can tell you the 3 Arab tenants I used to have, 1 was absolutely disgusting while the other 2 were neat and even cleaner than any of all my other tenants. And the dirtiest tenant award I have must go to 2 Caucasians, one from Canada and another from Australia who lived in my apartment worst than a pig sty for 12 months each! And I had a few Japanese tenants, though they were not the dirtiest but not a single one of them were clean either.

Nobody ever put a gun to your head and force you to rent your property to them. It's your property and you have every right to rent or not to rent. You can also back out even at the last minute as long as you haven't signed the agreement. In fact, you can also back out after you signed, just need to pay and compensate. So, you are the king, you are the landlord. By all means, do your due diligence. Ask your would-be tenants lots of questions - Ask not because he is Black! Ask because you need to ask every would-be tenant and because you need to have all the details to make an informed decision - whether to rent or not, it's your decision but please look beyond skin colour when you make your decision.


Haruki said...

Sorry to hear that you were treated so unfairly by your ex-friend. Respect you a lot for your principles.

jackie said...

your ex friend is disgusting and dirty. Hope she knows that karma is a bitch when it finds her! hope she is reading this too :)

Simon said...

What kind of questions shall I ask during the interview?

Tiago said...

These are very difficult issues. I work for a big and international real state company and I hear discrimination conflicts all over the world. Last week a partner from Argentina told me that he was near to close a rent contract for some Argentina Apartments with some guys when the owner through down the operation because these guys where from Bolivia; next these Bolivians started a trial for discrimination, there these are major matters penalties with jail; my friend turned out in the most uncomfortable situation then.