'Landlords just don't want to lease to minorities' - RTHK
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'Landlords just don't want to lease to minorities'

2020-10-05 HKT 15:49
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  • Survey organisers said landlords and agents often don't want to speak English to those looking for a place. Photo: RTHK
    Survey organisers said landlords and agents often don't want to speak English to those looking for a place. Photo: RTHK
Jimmy Choi reports
Ethnic minorities have complained about "unwelcoming attitudes" and "outright refusal to rent" in a new study which highlighted their difficulty in finding a roof over their heads.

The study of 140 ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and refugees put the spotlight on the problem, with many complaining about discrimination while they were looking for accommodation as well as inadequate support from the government and bodies such as the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

More than 90 percent of the respondents reported facing difficulty looking for a place to stay, with over half suggesting their ethnicity could be the main issue.

Potential tenants also complained about landlords or agents unwilling to speak to them in English and "outright refusal to talk to you".

They suspected their ethnicity, nationality and financial status were reasons behind the snub.

Survey organisers said the problem prevailed regardless of their gender, their Chinese and English proficiency, or how long they have lived in Hong Kong.

Organisers said that showed racism is alive and well in Hong Kong, preventing ethnic minorities from receiving equal treatment as others.

The study by the Hong Kong Refugee Ministry Group, Hong Kong Unison and other groups also took aim at statutory bodies such as the EOC and the Estates Agents Authority. It described their effectiveness in supporting ethnic minorities or asylum seekers and refugees as "marginally effective".

Out of 30 respondents who sought help from those two bodies, just over half said they found them to be helpful.

Survey organisers said that showed minorities have not been well-informed about their rights by the EOC.

The government is being urged to do more to fight the problem, such as a policy change allowing asylum seekers and refugees to work so as to improve their financial situation.

There are also calls to change the Race Discrimination Ordinance to outlaw discrimination over nationality.

"Other countries have included nationality in their legislation," Hans Lutz from the Refugee Ministry Group said. "That is the next step Hong Kong should take."
Last updated: 2020-08-05 HKT 17:17