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sex for rent

'Clear and unambiguous' laws needed to prohibit rent for sex

An RTÉ Prime Time investigation found male landlords asking women for “special arrangements”.

LANDLORDS OFFERING ACCOMMODATION in exchange for sex are “part of wider problems” in the rental sector, it has been claimed, in light of a new documentary on the practice occurring in Ireland.

The report will reveal what it was like to come face-to-face with the people posting sex for rent ads in Ireland, showing how some landlords are seeking sex from often vulnerable prospective tenants in exchange for reduced rent or free accommodation. 

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan made the claim ahead of an RTÉ Investigates broadcast called ‘Sex For Rent’ this evening, with the opposition party calling for “clear and unambiguous” legislation on the issue.

RTÉ found the men online, where they were looking for “females only” or stated they were seeking a “special arrangement”.

O’Callaghan, the party’s spokesperson for housing, last year tabled the Ban on Sex For Rent Bill 2022.

This would have created an offence of requiring or accepting sex as a condition of accommodation, with penalties of up to seven years in prison or a €50,000 fine. 

“The government didn’t refuse to back it as such,” he said.

“They let it go to committee stage and then it was killed off at committee stage. This is often what happens to pieces of legislation that the government don’t necessarily want to oppose but then they don’t work to get it progressed.”

O’Callaghan added that he was “more than happy” to work with the government on the bill, making changes as it sees fit.

The bill would also sought to prohibit housing websites from displaying such advertisements, as the housing crisis has persisted and some renters have become desperate.

“Certainly from everything we’ve seen to date, it very much is more vulnerable renters; younger renters, women, maybe migrants,” O’Callaghan said.

“People who may not have the same sort of support networks to fall back on, family or friends that would be able to give them help when they’re faced with this.”

“Traditional landlords”, he says, are “absolutely not involved in anything like this”.

Rather, it’s “opportunistic” individuals who own homes and “seem to think it’s okay to make these sort of demands”.

“When this emerged 18 months ago, the government were quick to say that they would be doing something in this area. They said they’d bring in their own legislation. None of that has happened.”

O’Callaghan said his bill aimed to “encourage” the government to make progress on its pledge.

“Really in that 18 months, the situation for renters has gotten worse, so I’d certainly be quite fearful that this [sex for rent] situation could be getting worse,” he said.

“Same as anything else, legislation alone won’t solve the problem. This is tied into wider problems in the rental sector.”

The Sex for Rent report airs tonight RTÉ’s Prime Time. 

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