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Sex for rent: Case of landlord propositioning tenant 'not a once off or unusual'

Housing charity Threshold has said it is aware of several such incidents.

Ruth Coppinger TD raised once such case in the Dáil yesterday. (File photo)
Ruth Coppinger TD raised once such case in the Dáil yesterday. (File photo)
Image: Shutterstock

LANDLORD’S SEEKING SEX in exchange for rent “is not a once off or unusual” according to housing charity Threshold.

Policy officer Ann-Marie O’Reilly made the comments as Threshold was launching its pre-budget submission today, calling for increased government funding to reduce homelessness and improve the rental market. 

Asked about a case raised by Ruth Coppinger TD in the Dáil yesterday of a tenant being propositioned by their landlord in lieu of rent, O’Reilly said the incident chimes with the charity’s experiences. 

“This is something I discussed with our advisors last week on women’s experiences of the rental sector and yes unwanted approaches from landlords come up from time to time.

It’s something we’re going to be looking at, women’s experiences in the rental sector in a bit more detail going forwards, but it’s unfortunately not a once off or unusual. 

Coppinger said she’d been in contact with a young woman who was renting a “bedsit in all but name” in the Rathmines area in Dublin and who’d experienced the approach.

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Noeline Blackwell told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today that they have also come across similar cases but that tenants might not know they can get support if they are made to feel unsafe or uneasy by such behaviour by landlords. 

“To be totally clear, it is entirely unacceptable to have a situation where somebody would proposition a vulnerable person, a person who’s vulnerable because they don’t have enough money or because they haven’t accommodation or might be homeless. To proposition them for actual activity is entirely wrong and unacceptable, and may even be a criminal offence,” Blackwell said.

Clarifying the legalities around such an approach, Blackwell said that it may be an offence in certain circumstances. 

The law says that somebody who propositions a prostitute for sexual activity for money or other consideration is committing an offence. Now, prostitution itself is not an offence in Ireland anymore, but the person who makes the proposition is committing an offence if they do it.

“The thing is, that a person will have to consider themselves as in prostitution in order to come within that category.”

“I don’t know of any prosecutions that have taken place, but it may very well be and the propositioning also amounts to sexual harassment, and a breach of tenancy agreements very often as well,” Blackwell added.

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Rónán Duffy

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