Often we reach a new city and while searching rental apartments we find ads ‘non-vegetarians not allowed’, ‘No Indians please’, ‘No Muslims please’, ‘No Tamils please’, ‘no African origin blacks please’ etc etc. It’s not any local issue, it’s an international disease. Well, short term rental leaders, AirBnB have just issued a Community Committment contract starting Nov 1, 2016, post which any buyer or seller cannot exercise any racial or discriminatory overtones in choosing or servicing a house or client.
Incase you don’t understand the bigger problem, expats go through nightmare at times searching for a place to stay. At any major city, it takes two days to schedule a house checking appointment, 2-2.5hrs to commute (to and fro, wait for broker) to see the house, like the details, be comfortable with the terms and think of finalising. When, suddenly, your race, religion or diet is asked and then the house denied. You are back to square one and limited time left to get a house, staring at you.
Even at high profile Singapore city, back in 2008, we were denied rental apartments as they said I was ‘Indian’ and ‘Indians are dirty, cook a lot, spoil walls and make house smelly’. Well, yes, we cook a lot – Indian cuisine is probably the most popular and accepted exotic cuisine, in every country of the world.
But what gave anyone the right to believe am dirty or will make my house smelly? Do you see a construction worker sweating it out in the sun, make assumptions and generalize it to entire India? And why worry about walls being dirty? Once house is returned everyone is expected to return in same condition – ie get house cleaned and walls painted if dirty. Or pay a big fine.
This problem isn’t local, it’s an international disease. Every human, or most humans, are racist with preconceived notions. And it starts before you are born – as every parent wants a fair skin child.
AIRBNB has initiated a movement to stop this nonsense. From Nov 1st every AirBnB seller or finder of apartments need to sign and follow the Community Committment agreement.
The agreement states ‘You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.’
If you don’t want to rent your apartment to any Muslim or non vegetarian or black or disabled or people with various orientation, then do not advertise on AirBnB. If you carry bias about staying only in vegetarian landlord house or English landlord house or Chinese house only, then don’t bother searching on AirBnB.
Why AirBnB took this step
Airbnb took a public beating in 2016 from users who shared bad experiences of racism under the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack. Airbnb later issued a comprehensive report on racial prejudice on their platform and outlined a variety of changes to the service that it plans to make.
Imagine you checkin into your apartment, anticipating a much long awaited holiday to kick off. When your landlord comes and says, ‘Be careful of x,y, Don’t do this, that. Blacks like you often do x,y so beware’. A simple line but how would the rest of your vacation and stay go? Disturbing and uncomfortable, right?
AirBnB may lose a small percent of business, but they will earn lot of respect and will be seen as extremely high principled who want to impact humanity. Kudos